Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Health Reform: You Think You Know but You (Probably) Have No Idea

Health Reform: You Think You Know but You (Probably) Have No Idea

Managing Editor

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is about to take hold, with enrollment in state health exchanges starting in October. But as the deadline nears, it's becoming clear that many people don't properly understand the law, its provisions, or their own roles, responsibilities, and rights. Across the next few weeks, on the Healthyist, we're going to share with you some key information about the ACA. Some of it you might already know, some of it you might not know, and some of it you might not know you didn't know!


The Affordable Care Act. The ACA. Obamacare. Individual mandate. Health exchanges. Medicaid expansion. Guaranteed issue.


If you're overwhelmed or confused by any of these words, you're not alone. You've probably heard of Obamacare. Maybe you know that's not the real name of the health care reform law. Maybe you didn't. The full name of the health care reform act passed by Congress in 2010 is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).


And that's ok-for now. It's a complicated issue, fraught with constant misunderstandings and misinterpretations. With so much information coming from so many different directions, it's tough to know what's true. You've probably heard a lot about the new law that you don't understand or that concerns or worries you.


For instance, are you concerned that " death panels" will be instituted as part of the ACA to make decisions about end-of-life care for Medicare recipients? If your answer is yes, consider this: The panels do not exist. Not now, and not under the new law. The misinformation about the panels stems from an earlier provision in the law-which is no longer part of the law-that would have reimbursed physicians for discussion about end-of-life care with patients.


Are you concerned that the new law will provide financial support to undocumented immigrants so they can pay for health care? Don't be, because it's not part of the law. Undocumented immigrants will not be eligible for Medicaid under the ACA.  


Here are a few more things you should know:

  • Starting in 2014, most people will have to purchase health insurance or they will have to pay a penalty; this is often referred to as the individual mandate. Starting in 2014, you can purchase health insurance from a health insurance marketplace if your state does not provide exchanges or implement the new insurance rules according to the new law, the federal government will perform these actions.
  • Companies that have more than 50 full time employees must provide health care insurance or receive a financial penalty. This requirement has been delayed until 2015.
  • Starting in 2014, health insurers will have to sell coverage to everyone who wishes to purchase it, regardless of any pre-existing conditions.
  • As part of the ACA, since 2010, private insurers must provide dependent coverage of children until they are 26 years old if they do not have their own health care insurance.
  • Individuals who make between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level--which is between $11,490 and $45,960 gross for a single person in 2013--will be eligible for subsidized coverage if it is purchased from a state health exchange.



Obviously, there's a lot more to the new law, and you can start to get a feel for just how much the law includes by visiting the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Reform section. To find out just how ready you are (or aren't) for many of the ACA provisions to kick in, take this Health Reform Quiz. I guarantee that you will learn something new-and important-about the ACA.


If your score wasn't so great, don't worry. There's still plenty of time to learn more about the law and make sure you know what you need to know to ensure you're covered when the time comes. Watch this short animated (yes, animated, for your viewing pleasure) video from Kaiser to help explain how health coverage for you and your loved ones will work under the new law.


This is part 1 in the Healthyist's series on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For more of our take on the ACA, read part 2, Digital Health Features Prominent in Health Reform Changes, part 3, Will a Little-known ACA Provision Give Clinical Trials a Much-needed Boost?, part 4, Health Literacy: Reading Between the Lines of the Affordable Care Act, and part 5, Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace Begins October 1. Are You Ready?

Digital Health Features Prominent in Health Reform Changes - See more at:


Digital Health Features Prominent in Health Reform Changes - See more at:


Digital Health Features Prominent in Health Reform Changes - See more at:



0 :


The Healthy(ist) blog is a platform to share, learn about, and debate topics related to public and social health, scientific research, health communications, and behavior change.
We invite and encourage anyone interested in current public health and health communication trends and issues to join MMG's contributing bloggers in adding their voice to the ongoing discussion about how we can advance health, together.


MMG Headquarters
700 King Farm Boulevard
Suite 500
Rockville, MD 20850
+1-301-921-4405 (fax)
MMG Europe
Thremhall Park
Start Hill
Bishops Stortford
Hertfordshire CM22 7WE
+44(0) 1279 874463