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What are ObamaCare and the Affordable Care Act?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and ObamaCare are one and the same: a United States federal statute signed into law as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by President Barack Obama in 2010.

The main focus of the ACA is to provide more Americans with access to affordable health insurance, to improve the quality of health care and health insurance, to regulate the health insurance industry, and to reduce health care spending in the US. The law contains hundreds of different provisions that were written to address “the healthcare crisis” in the United States.

What does the Affordable Care Act do?

Before the Affordable Care Act, over 44 million Americans were living without health insurance. Despite the majority of these Americans being gainfully employed, the reason so many went without health insurance was because of high cost. Although the details of ObamaCare have been controversial at best, the law accomplishes the following and more:

  • expands Medicaid eligibility so low-income families can pay for the cost of health insurance;
  • requires that all Americans have health insurance through a private provider or a federally assisted program;
  • offers cost assistance and affordable quality premiums through the health insurance marketplace;
  • allows young adults to stay on their parents' plan until age 26,
  • ends lifetime limits on health insurance coverage,
  • prevents healthcare providers from dropping you if you become ill,
  • makes it illegal to be denied coverage because of a past illness or be charged more for being a woman,
  • reforms Medicare by providing Medicare recipients with new protections and benefits.

What forms are used to report information required by the Affordable Care Act?

Everyone who received health care coverage who has to file taxes must report that they were covered on their 1040:

  • If you or a dependent missed at least one full month of coverage, you’ll need to file an Exemptions form.
  • If you or a dependent got Advanced Tax Credits, you’ll need to file a Premium Tax Credit form and will receive a 1095-A in the mail in regards to your coverage.
  • If you or a dependent got a Marketplace plan but chose to receive your Tax Credits as part of your year-end tax refund, you’ll need to file a Premium Tax Credit form.

Those who provided health care coverage for recipients and employees must also report the coverage they offered:

  • If you’re a health insurance issuer or carrier, a small business, or any entity that provided at least the Minimum Essential Coverage of health insurance to an individual, you’ll need to report that information on Forms 1094-B and 1095-B.
  • If you’re an Applicable Large Employer (ALE) -- that is, an employer with 50 or more full-time employees -- you’ll have to file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C for each employee insured.
Ready to file?