Timeline for health care reform

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After the tumultuous debate over health care reform ended, many Americans were surprised to find that key parts of the law wouldn’t take effect until years into the future.

Many of the sweeping changes — an end to insurance companies withholding coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, government-regulated insurance marketplaces and the individual requirement to buy coverage — won’t take place until 2014.

Some measures, such as closing the infamous Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” in prescription drug coverage, will come even later.

The law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, set up a carefully choreographed order for how its different parts will take effect to minimize disruptions to the massive health care industry and the bill’s impact on the federal deficit.

This road map will help you understand when the law’s many parts will, and have, rolled out. Read more and follow the changes by year:

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