National Health Care Reform and the Public's Health

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or the Act) into law. ACA aims to improve access to care and health outcomes through a number of mechanisms, including requiring most individuals to carry health insurance, prohibiting insurers from denying health insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and creating exchanges through which individuals and families not eligible for employer- or government-sponsored health insurance may purchase coverage. While the Act is aimed primarily at improving individual health by increasing access to health insurance, it also contains a number of provisions targeted directly at improving health at the population level. Most of these provisions, which encompass a variety of disease prevention and access-to-care initiatives, are found in ACA Title IV.