Man with questions about Obamacare

Confusion has been swirling around healthcare reform for years. But after a poll performed by Morning Consult in late January, it’s clear that a few huge misconceptions still remain. Namely, lots of us aren’t sure what the difference is between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act. The Morning Consult survey found many people are still unsure whether Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing. The poll also showed many people don’t know or understand what will happen if the healthcare law is repealed. Let us explain so you can be sure exactly where you stand politically with healthcare reform.

Survey Results: Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act

Before we start explaining, let’s take a look at what the Morning Consult survey found.

Infographic of survey results on Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act

  • Thirty-five percent were unclear on the relationship between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    • Of this 35 percent, 17 percent believed they were different things, and 18 percent didn’t know whether they were the same or different.
  • Forty-five percent weren’t aware the ACA would be repealed with new healthcare reform.
    • Of this 45 percent, 12 percent believed the ACA wouldn’t be repealed, and 32 percent did not know.
  • Only 61 percent knew that many using subsidies and Medicaid would lose coverage if the ACA is repealed without a replacement plan.
    • An additional 16 percent thought that this coverage wouldn’t be affected, and 23 percent did not know.

Are Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act the Same Thing?

Yes! Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are two popular terms for the same healthcare law. Officially called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the healthcare bill has acquired quite a few acronyms and nicknames: ACA, PPACA, Obamacare, and Affordable Care Act. So if a proposal seeks to repeal or alter any of these terms, it would impact the same set of laws that affect your healthcare and coverage.

“I have no problem with folks saying ‘Obama cares.’ I do care. If the other side wants to be the folks who don’t care, that’s fine with me.”

– President Barack Obama

Where Did the Term ‘Obamacare’ Come From?

While many have tried to claim that they coined the term “Obamacare,” The Atlantic has dated its origin back to a 2007 article. “Obamacare” was first released to the public in March 2007. Jeanne Schulte Scott argued that then-president George W. Bush had made healthcare a hot-button topic for the coming election cycle. In the Healthcare Financial Management journal, Scott coined the phrase—and president-based healthcare slang—in this forward-thinking quote:

“The many would-be candidates for president in 2008 are falling over themselves offering their own proposals. We will soon see a ‘Giuliani-care’ and ‘Obama-care’ to go along with ‘McCain-care,’ ‘Edwards-care,’ and a totally revamped and remodeled ‘Hillary-care’ from the 1990s.”

“Obamacare” was first used by Republicans to criticize the drastic healthcare reform. The Atlantic credited Gov. Mitt Romney as the first political figure to use the term in 2007. However, Democrats soon used the term to their advantage. Barack Obama famously said, “I have no problem with folks saying ‘Obama cares.’ I do care. If the other side wants to be the folks who don’t care, that’s fine with me.”

Why Did ‘Obamacare’ Become Such a Popular Term?

There is no single, concrete reason “Obamacare” became such a popular term. It may be that “the Affordable Care Act” is a mouthful, or reporters were short on space for titles. It could be that “Obamacare” is catchy, and Obama himself claimed the term. Organic shifts (such as Americans familiarizing the healthcare reform with the president), Twitter hashtags, and the term’s heavy use in debates all could have contributed to the popularization of “Obamacare.”

What Is in the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare)?

There are 10 main sections in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s full text.

  1. Quality, Affordable Healthcare for All Americans
  2. The Role of Public Programs
  3. Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Healthcare
  4. Prevention of Chronic Disease and Improving Public Health
  5. Healthcare Workforce
  6. Transparency and Program Integrity
  7. Improving Access to Innovative Medical Therapies
  8. Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS Act)
  9. Revenue Provisions
  10. Reauthorization of the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act

These sections, called titles, describe which aspects of healthcare would be reformed, how, and for what purposes. While we can provide an easy-to-digest version of what each of the titles does, you can always view the full Affordable Care Act here.

Within these 10 titles, the 10 essential benefits were created. All qualified health insurance plans (meaning plans approved by the Affordable Care Act) must include 10 minimum services to ensure all Americans have access to affordable, comprehensive, quality healthcare:

  1. Prescription drug coverage
  2. Pediatric services
  3. Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  4. Emergency services
  5. Hospitalization coverage
  6. Mental health and addiction services
  7. Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
  8. Ambulatory patient services
  9. Laboratory services
  10. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices

What Will Happen If the ACA Is Repealed?

In reality, cost, coverage, and guaranteed care are the hallmarks of the ACA. What will happen all depends on whether the entire ACA is repealed or select parts are repealed. For example, if the entire bill is repealed, there will no longer be guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing conditions (such as cancer), subsidized coverage would no longer be available (meaning many citizens may no longer be able to afford health insurance), and Medicaid expansions would be eliminated (leaving some lower-income individuals and families uninsured). And those are only a few of the laws in place protecting consumers within the ACA.

If the possibilities of extreme change seem vague, don’t worry. We’re keeping a record of the debates and decisions when it comes to healthcare reform. To keep track of exactly what the government is trying to change and what current proposals mean, visit HealthMarkets’ Healthcare Reform News Updates page. The page is updated daily throughout the week, bringing you the information you need to know in a way that’s easy to understand.

Build Your Own Healthcare Reform Bill

Did you know that you can personally affect healthcare reform? You can make your voice heard by creating your own healthcare reform bill before politicians start making changes. Just visit and follow the easy process. You can select what you want healthcare reform to look like, see what the rest of America has chosen, and share your bill with your friends, family, and policymakers.

Screenshot of website



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