The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or simply ACA) is a US law enacted by Congress and signed into law in 2011. It is also known as the federal health care law. The ACA called for what have come to be known as “health insurance exchanges.”
In essence, the exchanges are places where individuals and employees of small businesses may shop for government regulated, standardized, and affordable health care plans. The plans that you can get on the exchanges can’t exclude people due to pre-existing conditions. That means health conditions that you have before you enroll can’t be used to keep you from getting a plan.
The exchanges were set up to help boost competition and to bring down the cost of health plans. They may be set up and run by states, by private business owners, and by non-profit groups.
It is estimated that the exchanges will help to provide health care benefits to more than 20 million people in the US who had no health plans before the law was passed.