The ACA seeks to improve the overall quality of health care insurance, in a couple of different ways. First, it required that all health plans offer the following essential benefits, which are already in effect:
- An individual cannot be turned down for insurance due to a pre-existing condition.
- Premiums cannot vary by gender - they can only vary by the state the individual is insured in, the age of the insured, and in some cases, whether the insured is a smoker.
- Employer plans that cover dependents must offer coverage for employees' adult children up to age 26, even if the child is no longer a dependent.
Second, the minimum essential coverage requirement requires a plan to provide the following 10 essential benefits in order to be sold on a Health Insurance Marketplace:
- Ambulatory patient services
- Emergency services
- Maternity and newborn care
- Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
- Laboratory services
- Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
- Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.