Supreme Court’s ruling on health care law raises questions for consumers


by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

Posted on June 28, 2012 at 11:54 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 29 at 12:00 AM

HOUSTON—There are a lot of questions about a federal ruling that would require all Americans to buy health insurance. 

What does the Supreme court’s ruling mean for you and your family?

Many of the details still need to be hashed out if the law goes into effect in 2014, but those who chose to not have insurance would need to pay a penalty.

In a state that some experts criticize for not preparing enough for the Affordable Health Care Act, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Texas leads the nation in having the most people without health insurance.  One out of four don’t have it.

Peggy Sullivan is included in that statistic.

“I had insurance. $2,300 a month was the premium, I couldn’t do it anymore, and I couldn’t get insurance,” Sullivan explained.

Sullivan is a type 2 diabetic and has been praying for this moment. For her, buying mandatory health insurance would translate into lower taxes and the end of a gamble with her life.

“Had I had insurance, it wouldn’t have gotten to the point where I’m risking eyesight and my leg,” she said. “It’ll save a lot of people a lot of money, but most importantly, it will save lives.”

Others believe it will cost them more. Some of those who already have insurance know the ruling could impose new costs on insurance companies.

“I already have my own health insurance, and I’m not looking to the government for that, so if I end up paying a higher premium because of this coverage nationally, then that’s something I definitely wouldn’t be for,” said Margaret Marks.

More than 1.5 million people in the Houston area do not have health insurance. Some insured Houstonians worry that they’ll have to foot a majority of the bill for those who are not insured.

“I have yet to see our government do something like heath care better than the private sector’s done it,” added Marks.

Confusions remains over Thursday’s historic ruling. It is not clear how everybody will be covered despite that they will be required to have health insurance.

Judy Elam is a hurricane Katrina evacuee who currently receives Medicaid. With Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid, she fears for her friends who don’t get help and couldn’t afford mandatory insurance.

“What’s going to happen to the people that don’t get Medicaid. What about them? That’s going to make it bad,” said Judy Elam.

Those who refuse insurance would face a penalty starting at either up to 1 percent of their income or $95 a year.