One explanation of Health Care Act (Romney/Obama Healthcare)
What people call "Obamacare" is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, people were calling it "Obamacare" before everyone even hammered out what it would be. It's a term mostly used by people who don't like the PPACA, and it's become popularized in part because PPACA is a really long and awkward name, even when you turn it into an acronym like that.
Anyway, the PPACA made a bunch of new rules regarding health care, with the purpose of making health care more affordable for everyone. Opponents of the PPACA, on the other hand, feel that the rules it makes take away too many freedoms and force people (both individuals and businesses) to do things they shouldn't have to.
So what does it do? Well, here is everything, in the order of when it goes into effect (because some of it happens later than other parts of it):
(Note: Page numbers listed in citations are the page numbers within the PDF, not the page numbers of the document itself)
Already in effect:
It allows the Food and Drug Administration to approve more generic drugs (making for more competition in the market to drive down prices) ( Citation: An entire section of the bill, called Title VII, is devoted to this, starting on page 766 )
It increases the rebates on drugs people get through Medicare (so drugs cost less) ( Citation: Page 235, sec. 2501 )
It establishes a non-profit group, that the government doesn't directly control, PCORI, to study different kinds of treatments to see what works better and is the best use of money. ( Citation: Page 684, sec. 1181 )
It makes chain restaurants like McDonalds display how many calories are in all of their foods, so people can have an easier time making choices to eat healthy. ( Citation: Page 518, sec. 4205 )
It makes a "high-risk pool" for people with pre-existing conditions. Basically, this is a way to slowly ease into getting rid of "pre-existing conditions" altogether. For now, people who already have health issues that would be considered "pre-existing conditions" can still get insurance, but at different rates than people without them. ( Citation: Page 49, sec. 1101, Page 64, sec. 2704, and Page 65, sec. 2702 )
It forbids insurance companies from discriminating based on a disability, or because they were the victim of domestic abuse in the past (yes, insurers really did deny coverage for that) ( Citation: Page 66, sec. 2705 )
It renews some old policies, and calls for the appointment of various positions.
It creates a new 10% tax on indoor tanning booths. ( Citation: Page 942, sec. 5000B )
It says that health insurance companies can no longer tell customers that they won't get any more coverage because they have hit a "lifetime limit". Basically, if someone has paid for health insurance, that company can't tell that person that he's used that insurance too much throughout his life so they won't cover him any more. They can't do this for lifetime spending, and they're limited in how much they can do this for yearly spending. ( Citation: Page 33, sec. 2711 )
Kids can continue to be covered by their parents' health insurance until they're 26. ( Citation: Page 34, sec. 2714 )
No more "pre-existing conditions" for kids under the age of 19. ( Citation: Page 64, sec. 2704 and Page 76, sec. 1255 )
Insurers have less ability to change the amount customers have to pay for their plans. ( Citation: Page 66, sec. 2794 )
People in a "Medicare Gap" get a rebate to make up for the extra money they would otherwise have to spend. ( Citation: Page 398, sec. 3301 )
Insurers can't just drop customers once they get sick. ( Citation: Page 33, sec. 2712 )
Insurers have to tell customers what they're spending money on. (Instead of just "administrative fee", they have to be more specific).
Insurers need to have an appeals process for when they turn down a claim, so customers have some manner of recourse other than a lawsuit when they're turned down. ( Citation: Page 42, sec. 2719 )
Anti-fraud funding is increased and new ways to stop fraud are created. ( Citation: Page 718, sec. 6402 )
Medicare extends to smaller hospitals. ( Citation: Starting on page 363, the entire section "Part II" seems to deal with this )
Medicare patients with chronic illnesses must be monitored more thoroughly.
Reduces the costs for some companies that handle benefits for the elderly. ( Citation: Page 511, sec. 4202 )
A new website is made to give people insurance and health information. (I think this is it: http://www.healthcare.gov/ ). ( Citation: Page 55, sec. 1103 )
A credit program is made that will make it easier for business to invest in new ways to treat illness by paying half the cost of the investment. (Note - this program was temporary. It already ended) ( Citation: Page 849, sec. 9023 )
A limit is placed on just how much of a percentage of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they're not price-gouging customers. ( Citation: Page 41, sec. 1101 )
A limit is placed on what type of insurance accounts can be used to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. Basically, your insurer isn't paying for the Aspirin you bought for that hangover. ( Citation: Page 819, sec. 9003 )
Employers need to list the benefits they provided to employees on their tax forms. ( Citation: Page 819, sec. 9002 )
Any new health plans must provide preventive care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge. ( Citation: Page 33, sec. 2713 )