How much will the Affordable Care Act really help?

I’ve written before about how the Korean healthcare system is way superior to that of the United States, as the latter exists now (with the Affordable Care Act not fully implemented). It’s clear to me that some kind of government-sponsored health care system, like you find in most developed countries, would be a good thing. But a lot of people are unhappy about the details of how the Affordable Care Act was written, for example the lack of a public option. So how much will the Affordable Care Act really help?

Luckily, Wikipedia’s article on the legislation has an extremely detailed breakdown of what it does. I recommend skipping to the section on provisions that go into place on January 1st, 2014 because that’s where all the important stuff is.

Notably, if you’re income is 400% or less of the federal poverty line, the ACA guarantees your premiums won’t be above a certain limit. That limit is a few percent of your income if you’re towards the bottom end of the income distribution, or up to 9.5% at the top of the range. If the insurance you find is too expensive, it will be subsidized, and you can also take part in a “health insurance exchange.” And you can’t be denied care for having a pre-existing condition, anyway.

That’s how it works in theory, anyway. As written, it looks like a great deal, but it’s possible there’s a hidden catch that I don’t know about. Anyone who knows more about this than me want to fill in more information?

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