Coverage Worries Persist Amid Relief Over Health Care Ruling – ABC News
Throughout the country, relief was the dominant emotion among consumers who get help from the government to lower their health insurance costs following Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the subsidies underpinning President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Many consumers expressed somewhat conflicting views: They were happy their monthly premiums would continue to be affordable but exasperated by the coverage the policies purchased on the new health care exchanges provide.
“I don’t particularly care for Obama. I didn’t vote for him,” said Salt Lake City resident Paige Preece, whose subsidy allows her to buy insurance for $137 a month. “But, honestly, if it weren’t for this, I would be absolutely lost.”
The court’s 6-3 ruling upheld the federal financial assistance to millions of low- and middle-income Americans to help pay for insurance premiums regardless of where they live. An estimated 6.4 million people in the 34 states that used the federal health care exchange were at risk of losing the subsidies because their home states did not set up their own insurance exchanges.
The case turned on just a few words in the mammoth Affordable Care Act that suggested the federal subsidies could go only to consumers in states that operated their own health insurance marketplaces. Consumers in those states or in ones that fell back on the federal exchange when their own exchanges faltered were not affected by the case.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts declared in the majority opinion.
Polls taken before Thursday’s ruling suggested that most Americans wanted the court to uphold the subsidies. In an April Associated Press-GfK poll, 56 percent preferred that the court rule in favor of the Obama administration, while 39 percent wanted the court to rule for the other side.
Lydia DeJesus, who helps people sign up for coverage in Dickinson, North Dakota, said she has noted that division among consumers concerning the health care law, even among those receiving significant subsidies that make their policies more affordable.
“There are people who have services who never had services,” she said. “But there are people who were forced to have insurance and really don’t consider it affordable. Some people have told us they’d rather pay the fine as opposed to having health insurance.”
In Gresham, Oregon, Anna Mar, 28, said she is still no fan of what she calls “Obamacare.” She is a stay-at-home mom with two young boys. Her husband works in construction.
“The plan hardly covers anything, so I avoid going to the doctor,” Mar said. “I love the idea of everyone having health care, but it’s not affordable for us.”
For herself, Mar bought the cheapest plan on the exchange she could find: $134 a month, with a high deductible and high co-pays. Her government subsidy is $40. The couple’s children qualify for Medicaid, the state-federal health program for those with lower incomes.
Other consumers said they were grateful for the health care reforms and for Thursday’s ruling allowing the subsidies to continue.
Kim Jones, a substitute teacher in Wake Forest, North Carolina, said she once used the emergency room for her care. With the health insurance plan she purchased on the federal exchange, she now can afford follow-up treatment after surgery last summer to remove a brain tumor.