The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as “Obamacare”, was passed by Congress in 2010 and sparked a large political debate over the reforms it introduces into the current health care system. The purpose of the PPACA is to make insurance affordable to everyone, prevent patients from falling into financial crisis after getting sick, bring health care costs under control, and reduce the federal deficit. Whatever your opinions may be on the changes created by the PPACA, it’s important to know what these adjustments are and how they affect the American healthcare system. The actual law is over 900 pages in length, and researching the topic can be an overwhelming task; however, I have personally found 4 ways that can help undergraduate students demystify what the PPACA is all about in only 4 hours!

1) Khan Academy- In a YouTube video entitled “PPACA or ‘Obamacare’”, Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, presents arguments on both sides of the PPACA debate and highlights the important changes made by the Act without taking a political stance of his own. (Time: 7 min., 13 sec.)

2) Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works by Jonathan Gruber—This 150 page graphic novel was written by Jonathan Gruber, who helped create the original reform in Massachusetts and worked with President Obama and Congress to bring the reform to the national level. Be forewarned that Gruber, having helped write the reform, is a strong proponent for the PPACA and offers a glowing review of it. Although this source contains bias, it is a great way to understand the overall plan behind the PPACA. Gruber’s graphic novel is a fun and short read, full of interesting pictures and few words. (Estimated reading time: 3 hours)

3) Read current articles-TheCommon Wealth Fund and the Kaiser Family Foundation are two organizations that have a reputation for being neutral sources when reporting on topics such as the PPACA. By searching the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on these sites, you can find public opinion polls and fairly unbiased information on how the ACA is doing today. (Estimated time: 25 minutes)

4) Find the Critics– It is very easy to find proponents of the ACA, such as whitehouse.gov, that report how the plan is being achieved; nonetheless, criticisms have a variety of sources and are often unexpected. After understanding the purpose of the ACA, I recommend simply typing “what’s wrong with the Affordable Care Act” into your favorite search engine, and reading a few articles to find out if the ACA is progressing according to plan. (Estimated time: 25 minutes)

This list is only intended to give students a starting place in their research about the Affordable Care Act, but there is much more out there to learn! The Affordable Care Act affects everyone; as future doctors, it’s important to understand it!