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What Obama's health care law does

By The Associated Press
March 26, 2012
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A brief summary of the 900-page-plus Affordable Care Act, unless noted provisions take effect in 2014:

--Provides coverage to more than 30 million uninsured.

--Expands Medicaid to cover more uninsured low-income people.

--Creates exchanges, state-based health insurance markets, for small businesses and people buying private coverage individually.

--Provides government subsidies for many middle-class people buying private health insurance through an exchange.

--Allows young adults to stay on parents' coverage until age 26. Already in effect.

--Requires health plans to cover preventive care without charging co-pays. Already in effect.

--Requires most citizens and legal residents to carry health insurance, either through an employer, a government program or by buying a policy directly. IRS will assess fines for noncompliance.

--Requires companies with 50 or more workers to provide coverage, or pay fines if any of their employees ends up getting a health insurance subsidy.

--Raises taxes on upper-income households; imposes a variety of taxes and fees on the health care industry. Places a 10 percent sales tax on indoor tanning. Some taxes already in effect.

--Cuts Medicare payments to hospitals, insurers and other service providers; improves preventive benefits for Medicare recipients and gradually closes prescription drug coverage gap. Limits future increases in Medicare spending. Some Medicare provisions already in effect.

--Significantly increases federal regulation of the health insurance industry. Already in effect.

--Congressional Budget Office estimates coverage expansion will have a net cost of $1.1 trillion from 2012-2021. Spending cuts and tax increases are currently projected to offset the cost, for a modest reduction in federal budget deficits.

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Source: Associated Press research.

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