KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Supreme Court upheld a majority of the health care reform championed by President Obama. The move could mean that millions of American who do not have health insurance may soon get coverage. If they choose not to, they could face penalties.
Dr. Carole Myers, an associate professor with the University of Tennessee's College of Nursing, has been researching the Affordable Care Act. "I'm encouraged we have something," said Dr. Myers. "I would be naive to say it's the only answer, but I'm glad to see our country addressing something I consider a very, very serious problem."
Dr. Myers says the biggest change will be for those Americans who do not currently have health insurance. They will be mandated to get it. There will be several new ways to get health insurance.
"One is Medicaid expansion," said Dr. Myers, "More people would be eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act beginning in 2014 then are eligible today."
Through this act people between 133% and 400% of the federal poverty level will be included in Medicaid. The federal government will pay for this for the first few years, and states will have the option of accepting it.
If you are not covered by Medicaid, there will be government assistance called insurance exchange. "Insurance exchange is a virtual market where insurance companies will compete on standard products for your business," said Dr. Myers.
Until these programs go into effect, it will be hard to know exactly how much health insurance will cost.
For those who have insurance through their jobs, not much will change.
There will be some federal help to small business owners to provide insurance for their employees depending on how many employees they have.
If you are one of the people who do not want to get insurance, there will be a penalty. You will have to pay a new tax. "For a family, initially will be about $285, or up to 1% of their annual income, which ever is greater," said Dr. Myers. "It can grow to $2,000 plus dollars in subsequent years."
Dr. Myers says there is no way to know how insurance prices will cost because this act does not control price. It is still a market based product.
She does say the million or so people here in Tennessee who are currently uninsured will have the opportunity to do so very soon.