While the political fighting commences, the more important issue is how the ruling affect patients. Here are some highlights:
The uninsured: The decision leaves in place the so-called individual mandate -- the requirement on Americans to have or buy health insurance beginning in 2014 or face a penalty -- although many are exempt from that provision. In 2014, the penalty will be $285 per family or 1% of income, whichever is greater. By 2016, it goes up to $2,085 per family or 2.5% of income.
The insured: Because the requirement remains for people to have or buy insurance, the revenue stream designed to help pay for the law remains in place. So insured Americans may be avoiding a spike in premiums that could have resulted if the high court had tossed out the individual mandate but left other requirements on insurers in place.
Young adults: Millions of young adults up to age 26 who have gained health insurance due to the law will be able to keep it. The law requires insurers to cover the children of those they insure up to age 26.
People with pre-existing conditions: Since the law remains in place, the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing medical conditions remains active. The law also established that children under the age of 19 could no longer have limited benefits or be denied benefits because they had a pre-existing condition. Starting in 2014, the law makes it illegal for any health insurance plan to use pre-existing conditions to exclude, limit or set unrealistic rates on coverage.
Doctors and other health care providers: Health care providers have already begun making changes based on the 2010 law, and in preparation for what will go into effect in 2014. Those plans continue. In the short term, doctors avoid "chaos" that may have resulted from the law suddenly being dropped or changed. (CNN)
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