President Trump has long been calling for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – unofficially dubbed “ObamaCare” – with the goal of replacing it with a better and more affordable alternative.
However, despite the fact that Congressional leaders are already setting the stage for the repeal process, it has been a speculation whirlwind over what that replacement platform will be, how it will be implemented and what it could mean for small-business owners across the nation.
What is the Affordable Care Act?
Signed into law by former President Barack Obama in early 2010, the ACA is a health care reform law that extends affordable health coverage to 20 million previously uninsured Americans, mainly by:
- Protecting against discrimination for pre-existing conditions, gender and lifetime caps;
- Expanding Medicaid eligibility; and
- Offering cost assistance through a health insurance marketplace.
In fact, the ACA enabled 5.3 million taxpayers to claim a total of $19.2 billion in premium tax credits as a form of cost assistance in 2016, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
By creating a health insurance marketplace, the ACA allows purchasers to make apples-to-apples comparisons when evaluating plan options – all of which must meet a minimum essential benefits standard. This includes a variety of benefits, such as preventive care, maternity and mental health services, and prescription drugs.
Under the ACA, all Americans are required to have health coverage through either a private provider, government-based program like Medicaid or Medicare, or a health insurance marketplace. Those who fail to maintain basic health insurance face a per-month fee on their year-end federal income taxes for every month without coverage.
Over the past several years, the ACA has been widely used by Americans, both young and old. Despite a concern over the health care law experiencing a potential “death spiral,” more than 11.5 million individuals signed up for or re-enrolled in an exchange-based plan for 2017 – an increase of nearly 300,000 from last year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.