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Six Frequently Encountered Health Insurance Terms Explained

Sometimes it feels like shopping for a comprehensive health insurance policy requires the use of a special dictionary. Lucky for you, we have compiled one that will clear the confusion and make finding a suitable plan easier. We’ve explained six frequently used terms, acts and acronyms that you will find on most health insurance plans.

Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act is unofficially called Obamacare since it was instituted and then signed into law by President Obama in 2010. It refers to a health care reform legislation that made changes or amendments to health care in the United States before 2010. Some amendments are already in effect while others are set to roll out within the next couple of years.

Affordable Insurance Exchange

Affordable insurance exchanges exist at the state and federal levels. It enables individuals, families and small businesses to find out all their options for coverage by filling out an application. This makes it easier to sift through all the plans in the marketplace to find one that suits your income and need. Once you fill out the application, you receive information about the health plans that fit your criterion.


COBRA is short for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. This federal law allows you to continue with the group insurance plan of your employer for up to 18 months after you quit or get fired. COBRA even applies to those who cut down on their hours or go from a full-time employee to a part-time employee.

Essential Health Benefits

Essential health plans is a provision of the Affordable Care Act that went into effect in 2014. It consists of items and services deemed essential by the Act. These items include pediatric care, hospitalization, maternity, and newborn care, and care for mental health and substance use disorders.


HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This federal law deals with what you are entitled to when it comes to your health care. Some of the provisions under HIPAA include your right to doctor-patient confidentiality, your right to join a group health plan when certain work or life events occur (such as marriage or childbirth) and having the right to renew health coverage.

Minimum Essential Coverage

This refers to a minimum coverage that satisfies the ACA’s shared responsibility provision. If you don’t meet this mandate you could face a tax penalty.

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