How does the Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling affect you?
The high court upheld almost all of the law aside from one key provision.
The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold almost all of President Obama’s landmark healthcare law generated a ton of headlines and analysis about what it means for the president’s legacy, the 2012 election, and the Roberts Court.
But lost amid the scuffle is how the law, which can now be fully implemented, will affect you.
The most consequential provision that the decision let stand was the individual health insurance mandate, which requires that almost all Americans purchase health insurance by 2014 or face a financial penalty (there is fierce debate going on now whether that should be considered a tax in lieu of the legal reasoning the Court used to uphold the mandate).
The law also includes consumer protections that prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions and that lift lifetime limits on coverage. It also provides subsidies for certain low-income individuals and families who are required to purchase insurance, but can’t afford to do so.
But the Court did limit the law in one significant respect: it struck down the federal government’s ability to punish states that do not comply with the law’s expansion of Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, essentially rendering it an option and not a requirement.
If you want to find out how the law will affect you personally, the Washington Post has a useful tool that allows you to see how its provisions will impact your insurance coverage by answering a simple questionnaire.
Colorlines also has a primer on how the ruling on the Medicaid expansion could disproportionately affect African-Americans and Latinos who rely on the program more than other racial groups:
Enlargement of Medicaid is the single most important provision of the Affordable Care Act for people of color. It’s the way that almost all non-whites covered by the law would receive insurance.
If implemented as written, the law expected to cover 32 million Americans, accounting for 80 percent of those currently uninsured. Half of the 32 million are to be brought into the system through Medicaid, and three out of four of those individuals are people of color.
As passed by Congress, the Affordable Care Act broadened Medicaid by compelling states to participate under the threat of a severe penalty. Specifically, it would withdraw all Medicaid funds from a state that did not admit more of the working poor into the program. Yesterday’s ruling declared that method unconstitutional.
(Photo: Flickr, caroline_1)