The Affordable Care Act won't take full effect until 2014, when the creation of exchanges with subsidies combined with expansions of Medicare bring insurance to 30 million new people, effectively making coverage available to all. But the law offers some benefits already and, as a result, some people are already better off because the Affordable Care Act is in place.

How many? Suzy Khimm, whom readers of my blogging know well, has crunched the numbers for Mother Jones. She notes that about four million seniors are getting additional assistance on prescription drugs while four million small businesses are now eligible for tax credits to help offset the cost of insurance. Around two million uninsured children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage while a slightly larger number of young adults can stay on their parents' insurance plans if they lack alternative sources of coverage.

As Suzy notes, it's not a given that people eligible for these protections always need it or will always take advantage of it. But many people do and are. Take away the Affordable Care Act, and they would lose out.