It depends on who you ask. Most answers from politicians will depend upon their party affiliation.
In a nutshell, the original push for universal health care was a central theme in the Clinton Presidential administration, with Hillary Clinton herself spearheading much of the effort. The goal back then was to make sure that every American had some form of health insurance. The effort failed, and only became an issue once again after the end of the George Bush administration.
With the Democratic party controlling the White House, U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress, the Democrats once again felt it was time to push legislation forward. In the beginning, "Obamacare", as it came to be known, was to have been a program that would largely move control of health care in the United States from the private sector (insurance companies) to the federal government. This was met with strong resistance by Republicans, as well as the majority of the American public (according to polls at the time). Efforts stalled.
The health care bill then underwent extreme re-writes, which now had the government playing a much less centralized role in the running of the health care system. Instead, the new legislation uses a variety of methods to change how the system works, without overhauling it entirely.
One fact that is becoming more obvious as time passes is that the legislation will NOT provide the public with "free health care". Millions of Americans will not qualify for any assistance under the new law, once it takes effect. Those who do receive benefits under government health care guidelines will most likely have to pay deductibles, as well as increased income taxes. The future of privately run health insurance companies is now murky, at best. Unlike the original plan under the Clinton administration, ALL U.S. citizens will definitely NOT be covered.
Most aspects of the plan will not take effect for another four years, during which time the laws may be changed, found to be unconstitutional or revoked entirely by an act of Congress. It would be highly speculative to guess what the system will look like four years from now, so you will most likely have to wait for a final answer to your question for quite some time.