Key Aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare,” is a complex piece of legislation that impacts many aspects of healthcare. Its implementation has spanned years, it encompasses many exceptions, and it’s always changing. Below is more information on the key aspects of this law.

ACA implementation

The ACA was passed in 2010 with a timeline for implementing its provisions over the course of eight years. See the history of the law's implementation here.

Grandfathered plans: exceptions to the law

As you read about specific provisions of the ACA, pay close attention to exceptions that may apply to your coverage. Special rules apply to grandfathered plans, which are job-based and individually purchased plans in effect before the ACA became law on March 23, 2010.

Tracking changes in federal and state healthcare law

Implementing the ACA has brought about much change, but more change will come. Protect yourself and your family by knowing the details of your healthcare coverage and be prepared for federal and state laws changes that could affect your coverage. The following websites can help you track these changes and learn more about ongoing healthcare reform.

  • Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Reform Website  This site provides news and information at both the state and federal level, along with public opinion poll results, information on assistance, and subsidies (e.g., a subsidy calculator, implementation milestones, and other resources for both insured and uninsured consumers).
  • provides updates, tools, and information about Medicare. For example, one resource is a tool for finding and comparing hospitals in your area for specific medical conditions such as heart attacks.
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) CCIIO is the arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for implementing the ACA. This site provides consumer support and information on its programs and initiatives, such as its work with state and local governments to comply with new regulations and protect consumers.
  • - This Plan Finder is provided by the federal government to help you find private health plans outside the Health Insurance Marketplace. Understanding the ACA’s provisions and healthcare practices in your state gives you an important perspective on ensuring quality care for you and your family at a price you can afford.