(Reuters) - Millions of uninsured Americans will be able to sign up for coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform beginning on October 1, kicking off the most sweeping social program since the launch of Medicare for the elderly in the 1960s.
Below are details about the law:
* Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. Branded as “Obamacare” early on by its opponents, the president has since embraced the nickname for his signature domestic policy achievement.
* Beginning in 2014, the law requires Americans to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a fine if they don‘t. It requires insurance companies to provide a basic package of services, prohibits them from turning down applicants due to a prior illness and bars lifetime limits on health benefits.
* Subsidized health insurance exchanges in every state where Americans can buy coverage will go live on October 1 for plans that take effect on January 1, 2014. The Medicaid health program for the poor will be expanded to millions more people as of January 1.
* The law is expected to reduce the number of uninsured in the United States by almost half, or about 25 million people, in the next 10 years. As many as 7 million people are expected to buy insurance on the state exchanges and 8.7 million new beneficiaries are expected to enroll in Medicaid in 2014 alone.
* Americans with annual incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four, will be eligible to receive subsidies to buy private insurance on the new state exchanges, in the form of a tax credit.
* Americans with annual incomes of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $32,499 for a family of four, will be eligible for Medicaid coverage in states that agree to the expansion. To date, 22 states and the District of Columbia have accepted the expansion, while three states have asked the federal government to allow them to proceed with a modified version of the program.
* In 2015, the law will require businesses with 50 or more employees to provide health coverage, or face a fine of $2,000 per employee.
Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Doina Chiacu