Health & Wellness

July 3, 2012

What the Supreme Court Decision on Health Care Mean for You


Declared constitutional, the Affordable Care Act will have immediate impact

By Lani Luciano | June 29, 2012

Despite today’s drama, the Supreme Court’sdecision to uphold the Affordable Care Act may mean less for the future of universal health coverage than meets the eye, for two reasons:

  1. The upcoming election, not today’s ruling, will determine the health care law’s ultimate fate. House Republicans have already pledged to repeal Obamacare. That might be difficult in the current Congress — but it’s possible, even likely, if Republicans win the White House and control of both houses in November.
  2. Health care costs will continue to rise, though not as much as they would if the law had been struck down, according to the federal government’s estimates.

Meanwhile, the court’s 5-4 vote upholding the health care overhaul clears the way to providing unprecedented benefits to those at or approaching Medicare age. Under the Affordable Care Aact, enrollees in traditional Medicare are entitled to annual wellness check-ups and preventive screenings, like mammograms, at no cost. Those approaching the “donut hole,” the insurance gap in prescription drug coverage, will continue to receive drug discounts until the gap is eliminated in 2020.

(More: What if Supreme Court Rolls Back Health Reform)

If you’re a few years shy of Medicare eligibility and don’t have employer-provided coverage, the health insurance market will no longer be quite as daunting. Until now, individuals were often refused coverage because of their age or health status. The new law prohibits insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing medical problems; by 2014, that protection will apply to adults as well.

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