What Does the ACA Do for You?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the landmark piece of policy for Obama's first term. Save perhaps his response to the Great Recession, the ACA is likely to be the primary measure by which his presidency will be judged in the history books. As long as it is fully implemented, it should help millions of uninsured Americans by shifting more people onto Medicaid, providing subsidies for low-income workers, and forbidding insurance companies from excluding customers based on past illness.

The Obama campaign released an interactive flow chart yesterday. One inputs their demographic data—age, sex, and income, for example—and the program spits out various ways the ACA has improved your health-care coverage. As someone who has private insurance, it showed me a list of services my insurance will now be required to cover at no extra charge and highlighted the fact that 80 percent of my monthly payments must be used on funding health service. It also informed me that, thanks to my salary level, I will qualify for tax credits to help me pay for insurance, but not until 2014.

The chart is part of a wider media blitz from the president's re-election campaign on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the ACA's passage. It also comes shortly before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on law's constitutionality later this month. For all the attention heaped on the ACA as it snaked its way through Congress in 2009 and early 2010, it has largely receded to the background. That's because many of the main benefits won't be implemented until 2014, a budgetary move made to satisfy Blue Dog senators, who wanted to keep the price tag for legislation low during first ten years for imaging purposes. Its main innovations—a ban on pre-existing conditions, subsidies, and the health exchanges—won't go into effect until long after the next presidential election, putting Obama in the awkward position of touting benefits that will eventually improve their health care.

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