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We’ve been hearing about Obamacare for over two years now, but many people are still very confused about what it’s about, and what it really means for them.

So, how does all of this really effect you?

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare” or “the Health Care Law” was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The law includes more than 90 changes to existing healthcare policy, and while a few of those changes took affect immediately, most of the larger changes will not happen until 2014.

Many medical organizations, including the National Medical Association, is applauding the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law.

“The ACA is working,” says Dr. Cecil Bright, NMA President. “More seniors can now afford their meds. Young people can stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. Insurers no longer deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or drop people because they get sick. We are doing a better job of coordinating care, and we now have better prospects for preventing chronic disease. This is our best opportunity in a generation to overhaul our health care system. We look forward to working with the States and the Administration to ensure that the reforms are fully implemented.”

What the law means for: The uninsured

The decision leaves in place the so-called individual mandate — the requirement on Americans to have or buy health insurance beginning in 2014 or face a penalty — although many are exempt from that provision.

In 2014, the penalty will be $285 per family or 1% of income, whichever is greater. By 2016, it goes up to $2,085 per family or 2.5% of income.

What the law means for: The insured

Because the requirement remains for people to have or buy insurance, the revenue stream designed to help pay for the law remains in place. So insured Americans may be avoiding a spike in premiums that could have resulted if the high court had tossed out the individual mandate but left other requirements on insurers in place.

What the law means for: People with Medicare

The new law protects guaranteed Medicare benefits. It also improves and expands those benefits, such as lower out-of-pocket drug costs and free Medicare-covered preventative care benefits. Yet another benefit is improved access to primary care doctors. In addition, Medicare recipients will keep getting discounts on drugs to close a gap in coverage known as the “doughnut hole.”

What the law means for: Young adults

Millions of young adults up to age 26 who have gained health insurance due to the law will be able to keep it. The law requires insurers to cover the children of those they insure up to age 26. About 2.5 million young adults from age 19 to 25 obtained health coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Obamacare: How Does It Really Affect Blacks?  was originally published on

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