Albert Einstein once observed, "If you can't explain it to a 6-year-old, you probably don't understand it yourself."
Perhaps inspired by Einstein's insight, the folks at the Kaiser Family Foundation have risen to the challenge with "The Youtoons Get Ready for Obamacare," a seven-minute animated short that hits the high points of health care reform in "South Park" style -- without the raunchy language, of course. It's actually an update of the Youtoons film "Health Reform Hits Main Street," which made its debut in English and Spanish back in 2010.
Drama, an election -- and an apocalypse?
Veteran ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson opens his narration by reviewing the Affordable Care Act's difficult birth.
"Well, it's finally happening," he intones. "After years of drama on Capitol Hill, a Supreme Court case, a presidential election and a Mayan apocalypse that could have stopped it dead in its tracks but didn't, the marquee elements of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, are about to kick in."
Did he just reference the Mayan apocalypse? Yes! Finally, an Obamacare opponent worthy of a 6-year-old's attention!
Gibson and scores of bobble-headed Youtoons then proceed to illustrate how health care reform has and will affect Americans.
The 'toons' view of Obamacare
In simple terms, health reform will have the biggest impact on the 30 million uninsured Americans and the roughly 10 percent of us who purchase our own coverage. Most in these groups will qualify for federal subsidies to help purchase coverage when the new state marketplaces, or exchanges, open this fall.
The roughly 75 percent of us covered either through our employer's group health plan or a government program such as Medicare and Medicaid have seen the fewest changes, but they're welcome ones, including free preventive care and prescription drug coverage for Medicare recipients.
The cartoon turns a little dark when it ventures into the nationwide expansion of Medicaid, the sole part of the law that was blocked by the Supreme Court. The justices decided instead to let state leaders make that call.
"Medicaid will cover (poor adults who aren't covered today), but there's a catch," warns Gibson. "In states that get on board, the feds will cover almost all the costs. But for those who don't, you may be left with the same options you have today if you're poor."
A description of insurance 'megamalls'
Things brighten up when the cartoon turns to the new state marketplaces, "virtual insurance megamalls" where private insurers will compete for your business, offering a range from cheaper, high-deductible bronze plans to more expensive gold and platinum plans.
The Youtoons even won over Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
"As an academic, there's a part of me that maybe turns up my nose a little bit and thinks, 'Cartoons? Really? I can explain this better than a cartoon!'" he chuckles. "But I gave a presentation recently where the cartoon was shown first and it actually was the perfect lead-in to my talk because it broke it down more simply than I could have. It's extremely informative and complemented my talk really well."
Now that's how you make child's play out of the Affordable Care Act.
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Jay MacDonald is a Bankrate contributing editor and co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook," an e-book by Bankrate editors and reporters.