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Health Care/Health Care Reform: Affordable Care Act

This guide provides the latest information about health care, health care reform and The Affordable Care Act.

About the Law

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. Included in the historic law are comprehensive prevention provisions consistent with those called for by APHA in its health reform agenda and supported by other leading experts in population health and prevention. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act begins to shift our health system from one that focuses on treating the sick to one that focuses on keeping people healthy. The June 2012 Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act allows for the long-overdue changes made possible by the law to move forward without question or further delay.

APHA has been at the forefront of Promoting and protecting the critical public health provisions in the ACA. APHA has also been a leader in providing information and public education on the essential work the ACA and its Prevention Fund is doing in states and communities across the country.

Getting help

If you have specific questions about your own coverage options, there are three ways you can get help: 

  • Online: Go to or, the official websites of the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplaces. On these websites, you can find plan and pricing information and enroll for coverage. You can also find answers to many health insurance and ACA questions, learn about your state’s Marketplace, and chat online with Marketplace assistors.
  • By phone: There is also a 24-hour toll-free consumer assistance number: 1-800-318-2596 (1-855-889-4325 TTY/TDD). Operators can provide educational information and enrollment assistance in more than 150 languages. Small business owners can reach operators trained on their issues and options at 1-800-706-7893, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
  • In person: In person enrollment assistance is also available. To find assistance locations near you, visit or

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who can buy on the marketplace? Can I buy on the exchange even if I am not eligible for subsidies?

A. The exchange can be used by individuals, families and small business owners who have 50 or fewer employees.

Q. If I have insurance from my employer, do I have to do anything?

A. You don't have to, but if you choose to do so, you can drop your employer's coverage and buy a plan from the exchange.

Keep in mind, depending on the type of employment coverage available to you, you might not qualify for certain savings offered by the exchanges.

Q. Can I buy insurance through the marketplace if I already have a serious health problem?

A. Yes. The amount you pay for a health plan will not be affected by your health status.

This means that you can't be charged more because of your health problem.

It also means you will not have to wait to get the coverage you need.

Q. If I have Medicare, can I purchase a plan on the exchange?

A. Yes, but you can't get help paying for it.

Also, getting extra coverage on the exchange may not make sense.

That's because Medicare will be your main coverage, but you would still have to pay for a full health plan at New York State of Health.

Talk about this with an exchange helper to figure out the right strategy for you.

Q. Some groups are exempt from being required to have coverage. Who are they?

A. The categories include people who would have to pay more than 8% of their income for health insurance, people with incomes below the threshold required for filing taxes, those who qualify for religious exemptions, members of Indian tribes, undocumented immigrants, and people who are incarcerated.

Sources: New York State of Health, Kaiser Family Foundation,