Consumer reaction to the Supreme Court subsidy ruling

AP News
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Posted: Jun 25, 2015 3:26 PM

Americans receiving government subsidies for health insurance policies purchased through the federal exchange expressed relief Thursday following a Supreme Court ruling upholding the assistance.

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Diane Munroe of Concord, New Hampshire, heard the news on her way to a doctor's appointment. She's undergoing knee-replacement surgery later this summer — something she would not have been able to afford without her tax subsidy — and was relieved to hear the court's ruling.

"I'm getting them both now because I was figuring if I didn't have any insurance, I wouldn't be able to get my knees replaced," she said.

Munroe, 63, pays $400 a month, with a roughly $300 subsidy.

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In Gresham, Oregon, Anna Mar said she is still no fan of what she calls "Obamacare." She is a stay-at-home mom with two young boys. Her husband works in construction.

"The plan hardly covers anything, so I avoid going to the doctor," Mar said. "I love the idea of everyone having health care, but it's not affordable for us."

Oregon operates a state-federal hybrid insurance marketplace and would not have been affected by the Supreme Court case.

Last year, Mar qualified for Medicaid. But this year, after Mar's husband received a raise, she no longer qualified for the health insurance program for the lowest-income people and had to buy private insurance on the exchange. The couple's two boys do qualify for Medicaid.

For herself, Mar bought the cheapest plan on the exchange she could find: $134 a month, with a high deductible and high co-pays. Her government subsidy is $40.

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"I'm a small business owner, so it's my only option. My husband also is self-employed; it's his only option," said Brie Delisi, 37, of Northwood, New Hampshire. "For the two of us, paying $300 a month is pretty darn affordable."

She owns a woman's boutique; he's a carpenter. They are expecting a baby in January. Without the subsidies, their premiums would double.

"To us, it's a very, very valuable product, and I would've been pretty disappointed had they taken it away," she said. "I hope it definitely stays in effect, because it's helping a lot of people like us who don't have insurance through their employers."

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In Pennsylvania, small business owner Rockney Shepheard called the health care ruling "great news."

"I'm very happy about the decision on a personal level and for everybody in the same boat as I am in Pennsylvania and all the other states," Shepheard said Thursday. "It's great to news for us and the Obama presidency."

The 62-year-old Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, resident had been denied coverage for a pre-existing condition before the health law's protections went into effect. The monthly subsidy he receives brings his premium down to $180, which he said he can afford.

"I think occasionally the Supreme Court rules in favor of something I deem to be rational," he said. "Saving health care for millions of people is nothing to sneeze at."

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Also expressing relief was substitute teacher Kim Jones, 60, of Wake Forest, North Carolina, who was uninsured for about a decade before buying a health plan last year and receiving a $500 monthly subsidy to help pay for it. She needs follow-up care after surgery last summer to remove a brain tumor.

"I actually did not panic. I didn't really believe that that was going to happen. But I also understood the ramifications of it for people who desperately need it. So I'm really happy that it turned out as it is," Jones said Thursday.

"I know it helped so many people, and a lot of folks like myself who had fallen through the cracks were finally getting some kind of help with health issues."

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"I'm not glad just for us. I'm glad for everybody that's got it," said Cindy Connelly, 63, of Amelia, Ohio. "There's other people (for whom) this would be devastating. You hear about old people who share their pills because they can't afford their prescriptions."

Connelly, a retired manager of a self-storage business, applied last year through the marketplace after her husband was laid off and lost his health care.

She and her husband pay $247 a month after receiving a $1,000 subsidy from the government.

"It's not the greatest insurance, but at least it's insurance so you don't lose your home and everything you've worked for," she said.

Within minutes of the announcement, she got two phone calls from friends to tell her the good news.

"I appreciate that Obama stuck with it. He never faltered and made it happen. I'm glad he did," she said.

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Kelsey Collier-Wise of Vermillion, South Dakota, said she felt "relieved, very relieved" after learning about the high court's decision.

"This is going to save us obviously a good deal of money," the 33-year-old said. "We couldn't have kept the plan that we have now at the price that it was."

Collier-Wise and her husband pay about $261 a month for their plan after a subsidy of $336 per month through the exchange. Her 5-year-old daughter is now covered through Medicaid. Before she signed up for coverage through the exchange, Collier-Wise paid roughly $750 a month to cover the whole family.

"At the time before we had moved onto an ACA plan, our insurance coverage was by far the largest monthly expense that we had," she said in an interview before the ruling. "It was a pretty huge part of our income, and not having to worry about that to the same extent, having basically the affordable insurance, has just made a huge amount of difference in the wiggle room we have every month."

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This report was compiled by Associated Press writer Carla K. Johnson in Chicago with input from AP reporters around the country.