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The Affordable Care Act: The First Year

The Affordable Care Act: The First Year

What’s going on with the new health-care law? What does it really do for you and your family? If you’re confused and want to know the facts, you’re certainly not alone.
That’s where Consumers Union comes in. Since its founding 75 years ago, Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, has been focused on providing consumers with easy-to-understand comparative information so that they can make the best decisions in the marketplace. We know firsthand that the health-care marketplace is one where consumers have deep concerns. We’ve been especially motivated on the issue by the personal stories we’ve heard and surveys we’ve conducted involving real people with real problems. They want access to safe and affordable healthcare for themselves and their families. Indeed, six out of 10 Americans we surveyed in April 2009 said they were concerned about going bankrupt because of an illness or accident. And in fact, catastrophic medical bills are still among the main causes of bankruptcy in the U.S.
The new health-care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, includes several key consumer benefits that can help alleviate some of these problems. But you need to know about the benefits—and when they become active—to actually take advantage of them.
Because our current health-care system is so complex, making big changes takes time. So the new law is being phased in, starting with its signing on March 23, 2010, and continuing until January 1, 2014, when all the pieces are scheduled to be in place. We’ve created this consumer guide to help you understand your options after one year of the law’s being in effect—similar to what we did at the six-month mark—and we’ve included resources on the Web where you can get additional reliable information.
We hope you find this guide useful. Copies are available for download on our website, at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org/insurance, and in Spanish at
We welcome your feedback, your partnership, and your collaboration as we work together to address the concerns and advance the interests of America’s health-care consumers.
Jim Guest
Consumers Union
Publisher of Consumer Reports
For a PDF format, click here.