How the Health Care Ruling Affects Illinois

In Illinois, about a million uninsured residents could be eligible for coverage

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP

    Following the Supreme Court's landmark decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law, Illinois residents want to know what's next.

    The individual mandate means most Americans will have to buy health insurance or pay a fine.

    In Illinois, about a million uninsured residents will be eligible for coverage through the Affordable Care Act and if the state expands Medicaid coverage, said Kevin Scanlan, president and CEO of Metropolitan Healthcare council.  How the Health Care Ruling Affects Illinois

    "That's fantastic news," Scanlan said. "If people start getting in a health care setting early on ... the health of the state increases dramatically and the cost of providing health care decreases."

    Not everyone agrees. The Illinois Policy Institute said the ruling means enrollment in Illinois' beleaguered Medicaid program will reach nearly 4.5 million people in 2019. Those with serious conditions will have to compete with even more people for fewer doctors willing to see them, the organization added.

    How Politicians Reacted to the Ruling

    Lynda DeLaforgue, co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois, said the next step is establishing a health exchange in Illinois and figuring out how to fund administrative costs long-term.

    "It's a historic moment for afford health care," DeLaforgue said. "We now have to get down to the hard work of implementing the law."

    Marianne Flanagan, who battled breast cancer without insurance beginning in 2002, said through tears Thursday morning the ruling "is huge for so many reasons."

    "It's a good day," Flanagan said. "It's so good for so many people."

    Flanagan said she went years without mammograms when she didn't have insurance, and after she was diagnosed her employer didn't provide major medical insurance for part-timers.

    She ended up $80,000 in debt and, thankfully, in the hands of an oncologist who worked with her on the payments.

    "People who have never been really sick don't understand the implications of this bill," she said.

    Some Illinois residents won't feel them for some time.

    Dr. Joel Shalowitz, a director of health industry management at Northwestern University, said the change won't affect anyone with insurance right away.

    "I don't think anything is going to change immediately," Shalowitz told NBC Chicago. "That's sort of one of the ironies of it, because [for] people who have health insurance under the current terms ... all of those things that people currently enjoy are going to continue."

    Things like keeping a 26-year-old on their family's policy, no lifetime coverage limits and no out-of-pocket expenses for preventative services, Shalowitz said, will still be there because insurance policies are on a year-to-year basis. Nothing will change, he said, at least until Jan. 1.

    "I think we'll need to wait until September or October when people know what their new insurance is going to look like in order for them to figure out what the individual impact is going to be."