Tuesday, 3 March 2015

What’s At Stake As Health Law Lands At Supreme Court Again


By Sarah Varney

Tue, Mar 3 2015

BURNSVILLE, N. C.—It’s been a bitterly cold winter in the Blue Ridge Mountains for Julia Raye and her 13-year-old son, Charles. But despite the punishing weather, 2015 has been looking good: Raye is finally able to afford insulin and the other medications she needs to keep her diabetes under control.

She’s a self-employed auditor who relies on a $400 per month government subsidy to afford the private health plan she bought on healthcare.gov, the online federal marketplace for health insurance.

Before the Affordable Care Act made tax credits available to low- and moderate-income workers, Raye was uninsured. Back then, just one of her diabetes medications cost her $320.

“During that time, I had no insurance, and I really wasn’t taking my medicine. There were times when my sugars and things would get up to 600,” Raye said. “I remember getting to a point where the ambulance had to go take me in because I was pretty much in a diabetic shock.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that could cripple the Affordable Care Act and imperil financial assistance to 8.2 million health insurance shoppers like Raye in the states that rely on the federal health insurance exchange.

Since January 2014, Raye has had steady insurance, paying just $30 a month, while her son was covered by Medicaid, the public insurance program for low-income people. Treating her diabetes has improved her vision and the numbness in her feet, and, at age 48, she has gotten a long overdue mammogram.

Raye says she is watching the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act with growing anxiety. If the court wipes out her subsidy, Raye says she wouldn’t be able to pay for treatment. Her diabetes would again worsen, she would be unable to work and she and her son would face financial ruin, she says.

In North Carolina, nine out of ten people who buy health coverage on the federal exchange receive a subsidy. If large numbers of people here and in other states lose financial assistance and drop their insurance, health policy researchers say insurance markets will be thrown into disarray.

source : What’s At Stake As Health Law Lands At Supreme Court Again

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