The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, is a comprehensive healthcare reform law enacted in 2010 by then-President [[Barack Obama]] with the aim of improving the United States' healthcare system. The ACA is a response to the formidable challenges of providing affordable, quality healthcare to millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans. ## Key provisions of the ACA 1. **Individual mandate**: The ACA requires most Americans to have health insurance, either through their employer, a government program, or purchasing it individually. Those who do not comply face a financial penalty, which was intended to encourage people to obtain coverage and reduce the number of uninsured individuals. 2. **Health insurance marketplaces**: The ACA established online marketplaces (also called exchanges) where individuals and small businesses can compare and purchase insurance plans. These marketplaces were designed to increase competition among insurers and help consumers make informed choices. 3. **Expansion of Medicaid**: The ACA provided for the expansion of Medicaid, a state and federal program that provides healthcare coverage to low-income individuals and families. This aimed to increase the number of people with access to healthcare services. 4. **Protections for pre-existing conditions**: The ACA prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to individuals with pre-existing health conditions, ensuring that these people can access affordable healthcare. 5. **Dependent coverage until age 26**: The ACA allows young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they turn 26, giving them more time to find employment that provides health benefits. 6. **Essential health benefits**: The ACA requires health insurance plans to cover a set of essential health benefits, such as hospitalization, maternity care, and prescription drugs, ensuring a minimum level of coverage for all enrollees. Skeptics of [right-wing]( objections to the ACA often point out that the law has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of uninsured Americans, improved access to care, and provided crucial protections for people with pre-existing conditions. They also argue that the individual mandate is necessary to maintain a balanced risk pool, which helps keep premiums in check for everyone. Proponents of the ACA note that many of the [[conservative]] concerns have not materialized to the extent predicted, and that the overall benefits of the law have outweighed any drawbacks.