Healthcare Reform Definitions

Getting tripped up on health care terminology?

Don’t worry – healthcare reform isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to understand, and some of the words and phrases used around the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) might seem confusing. That’s why we’ve taken some time collecting a few of the basics and defining them for you! While this list isn’t exhaustive, it is a primer to help you understand some of the terminology you’ll likely hear in the news as Obamacare continues its roll-out.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Affordable. “Affordable” care is defined as 9.5% of a family’s annual income.

Affordable Care Act. Also known as Obamacare, the ACA is a sweeping set of health care reforms. The Affordable Care Act is now “the law of the land,” and is being rolled out in pieces over the next few years.

Coverage. “Coverage” simply means a health insurance plan that covers a family’s healthcare costs.

al benefits.
The Affordable Care Act will require all insurers to provide for ten essential benefits for everyone who is insured, including prescription drugs and maternity care.

Healthcare reform. The term used in reference to the changes made to America’s healthcare system through the Affordable Care Act.

Insurance. This word specifically refers to health insurance in Obamacare. By 2014, all Americans will need to have health insurance, or else they’ll need to pay a penalty.

Mandate. Obamacare mandates, or requires, all individuals in the United States to have healthcare coverage.

Marketplace. Regardless of state, the “Health Insurance Marketplace” is the system all Americans will use to compare, choose, and sign up for a health insurance plan for their famiy.

Obamacare. See “Affordable Care Act.”

Open enrollm
 The open enrollment period is the timeframe in which people can enroll in a healthcare marketplace plan.

Penalty. The money that must be paid by the uninsured to offset the costs of emergency treatment. In 2014, this will be $95 per adult in a family, or 1% of the family’s income – whichever is greater.

Pre-existing condition. A pre-existing condition is a health problem that exists before a person seeks insurance. Before Obamacare, people could be denied coverage (or be forced to pay higher costs) if they had a pre-existing condition. Obamacare does not allow people to be denied for pre-existing conditions.

Preventive care. “Preventive” or “preventative” care is care sought before an individual develops a health problem, and includes things like check-ups and regular visits to the dentist. Under the ACA, preventative care will essentially be free.

A single-payer healthcare system is one where the government is the sole provider of all Americans’ health insurance needs (not private companies). Obamacare is not a single-payer system.

Uninsured. People without insurance. Obamacare seeks to decrease the number of uninsured individuals in the United States.

Know your Obamacare facts!

Because Obamacare is a complex piece of legislation (over 900 pages long!), understanding it completely can be a bit difficult. For more information, check out RankPop’s infographic simplified guide to Obamacare below and get yourself educated on the healthcare reforms sweeping the nation over the next couple of years!


About the Author: By Kris Dietz

Brandon William Peach is a writer across many topics, including religion, pop culture, literature, marketing, politics, human rights, and animal welfare. His work has been featured at RankPop, RELEVANT Magazine, Lure of Mac, I Think I Believe, Existimatum, and much more. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonPeach.

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