The cost of private health insurance starting Jan. 1 will vary—often greatly—for people, but under Obamacare nearly everyone with insurance will have the same minimum level of benefits.
The Affordable Care Act requires private health insurance to offer that same set of "essential health benefits" as part of the health-care reform law's effort to both improve Americans' overall health, and control long-term medical costs by encouraging preventive care.
These benefits must be included whether they are in employer-sponsored insurance plans—which cover most working Americans—or in individual plans being sold on the open market and by the new government-run marketplaces such as the federally run HealthCare.gov site and the state-run health exchanges.
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Before the ACA, insurers were offering plans that had a wide range of benefits, from bare-bones catastrophic coverage, to high-end "Cadillac plans," but there were no minimums.
The new minimum essential benefits that insurers must cover as part of their plans include emergency services as well as outpatient care that people get at a hospital without being admitted.
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