clock menu more-arrow no yes

What is Obamacare?

A set of health insurance and industry reforms passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in March 2010.

obamacare sign
Obama signs Obamacare into law. (Pete Souza)

Obamacare is what we’ve apparently decided to call the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a set of health insurance and industry reforms passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in March 2010.

Obamacare has significantly increased the number of people with health insurance coverage. It did that by overhauling the individual insurance market — where people buy their own policies — and expanding Medicaid, a public program that covers low-income Americans.

But Obamacare does more than expand health insurance coverage. The law touches nearly every American industry, from hospitals and doctors to restaurants and even ice cream parlors (which, because of Obamacare, are required to post calorie listings on their menus). Obamacare includes lots of policies that change the way doctors get paid, with the aim of slowing the ever-growing cost of health care.

Since the day it passed, Obamacare has been controversial and divisive. There have been more than 50 votes in the House of Representatives to repeal it and multiple Supreme Court cases to overturn or curtail it. After all that Obamacare is still standing.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.