When Jackie Davis' son, now 25, was first diagnosed with juvenile diabetes ten years ago, Blue Cross Blue Shield told her he would be uninsurable. For a school librarian and single parent, paying full price for his insulin and medical supplies under Nebraska's high-risk plan would have wiped out Davis' meager savings several times over.
In an email to The Huffington Post with the subject line "Thank God!" Davis said that because of the Affordable Care Act, her son has a future. "I have had health insurance all of my life and he has been insured since he was born in 1987," she wrote. "But ten years ago, he developed Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1, which means he is dependent upon insulin to live)."
His condition, which was triggered by a severe bout of influenza, was made worse by a health care system that denied him coverage after the age of 26. The Supreme Court's ruling on Thursday, however, means he'll be able to afford his medicine even after he is too old to qualify under his mother's health plan. The ruling will also make it easier for him to find a job.
"In addition, there is now a better chance that he will be employable," wrote Davis. "I was employed in human resources throughout the 1980s, and am very aware of the fact that pre-employment physicals are to weed out individuals with expensive medical conditions. If all are now eligible for insurance, regardless of pre-existing conditions, it would follow that these discriminatory hiring practices will also abate."
HuffPost invited readers to write in with reactions to the Supreme Court's health care ruling on Thursday. Read more of their responses below and at Off The Bus, our open source reporting project. If you have a story about how the court's decision will affect your family, tell us: firstname.lastname@example.org (include your phone number if you are willing to be interviewed).
I want to tell you my story. I am not only a healthcare professional but also a patient. When I was in college a horrible incident occurred: a man who had long had an obsession with me attacked me. The incident left me in an intensive-care unit in a coma for several weeks. The fallout of this was a seizure disorder due to my brain injury. I could no longer attend medical school because I could not stand the long hours needed for internship and residency, so I became a nurse instead.
A few years ago I started suffering upwards of 30 to 50 mini seizures a day. Because I was already on very high doses of two anti-seizure drugs, my neurologist recommended a vagal nerve stimulator to prevent seizures. This of course is expensive so my insurance did not want to pay the cost. Never mind that I could not drive and was in jeopardy of losing my job. I was required to jump through many hoops, including a psychiatric evaluation, even though my primary neurologist had stated this was unnecessary. Of course the insurance denied the requests.
Fortunately because I am a nurse I know much more than the average patient. I knew I could appeal the decision and request an independent physician review my records. This was done and my implant was approved. However, with a cost: as I have worked at the same company, and because the procedure was so incredibly expensive, I was coming close to meeting my lifetime cap. This scared me more than you know. Now I do not have to worry about this. I will be forever grateful for this.
-- Lisa C. Hendricks
West Jordan, Utah
I work for an insurance company, so this may surprise you, but I am as relieved as I can be that the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare.
I have a great job with good healthcare benefits, but my husband has had cancer three times. I have two sons with ADHD and asthma. I have had three surgeries. If something ever happened to me or to my job, my family would never qualify for benefits. I know this because I work for a company that offers individual policies -- one of a very few companies that does.
From a work perspective, I am also happy. The insurance companies are about to have approximately 30 million new enrollees to fight over. The process will be profitable and, no matter what the conservatives say, we will make it work. Ultimately, in a few years, everyone will agree this was the right decision and that the law is basically good for most.
-- Christine Wetzel
Obamacare will allow me and my family and friends to go to a doctor for a medical exam regularly and for care when needed. Without Obamacare, there is no way we can get medical care. We are not old enough for Medicare. We are not poor enough to get the care given to the very poor. We are not disabled, so we can't get the care some disabled get free. We do not make enough money to be able to afford buying medical insurance. I am self-employed and I cannot afford to buy insurance. Some of my friends do not work for companies that currently offer it, or do not work sufficient hours to be eligible for employment-based medical benefits.
Now we can all get health care. It will prevent lots of health problems by finding them before they become emergencies. Examples include: pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, allergies, cholesterol problems, and tumors. These are things that, if caught early can result in preventative medical intervention to prevent potentially life threatening situations.
It will prevent us from losing everything we own to pay for medical care and going bankrupt. It will result in happier lives to have whatever we have going on medically taken care of instead of just ignoring it all until it becomes an emergency. I am excited about it!
-- Toby Cantine
West Linn, Oregon
1. My granddaughter will finally have coverage, likely under low-income family Medicaid.
2. My younger daughter (age 26), who [has Type 1 diabetes], is insured under COBRA for $509 a month. COBRA runs out in 2 years and 9 months. Her medications run about $1,000 a month. Private insurance for her is either unavailable, or the waiting period for a pre-existing condition is at least six months, or it's a junk policy with ridiculous co-pays and deductibles. With the Affordable Care Act, it will be easier for her to find insurance when the COBRA runs out. Without her prescriptions, she's dead.
So long as members of Congress remain addicted to shaking down campaign contributions from the insurance industry, medical professionals, hospitals, drug companies, and others in the "sick" care industry, reform of the kind that is needed (single payer) won't happen.
-- John Martin Strate
I am among the uninsured, long-term unemployed in Colorado. I am a single adult without dependent children who has been denied public assistance, including Medical insurance via Medicaid or other insurance programs, simply because I have no minor children.
I was very excited by the provisions to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, but after yesterday's ruling I have mixed emotions because the only part of the bill that would have helped me -- assuming I have no "real" job and therefore no employer-sponsored health plan in 2014 -- was not upheld. The Medicaid expansion program is essentially now an optional program that each individual state may choose to participate in or decline. Given GOP obstructionism and their outrage over anything contained in the ACA, I would expect it to be a battle that many states and their Republican governors may decline to participate in simply on an ideological basis, just as some have done with federally-funded unemployment insurance programs.
The Medicaid expansion is now "optional" for the states -- in other words, legislators (and governors) in each state will decide whether or not to accept the federal money and expand their Medicaid programs to people such as myself, and millions of other unemployed Americans who are denied assistance, including healthcare coverage via Medicaid or other insurance programs.
I do believe, however, that the ACA provisions that will allow people with pre-existing conditions to benefit -- albeit 1.5 years from now, when the pre-existing conditions provisions are fully enacted in 2014.
-- Kelly Wiedemer
You asked how this would affect me. In my situation it will have somewhat of a negative impact and even though it may, I think this is great and surprising all at the same time. However I fear that some middle-income families will find themselves on the fence. I'm not sure what the qualifying factor is for those of us that can't afford the premium -- I'm on Social Security Disability insurance and I can't afford that version of healthcare. I qualify for my wife's work insurance plan that covers nothing with high deductibles. But given the sinking economy in Arizona, I can't afford this plan either. I'm on a fixed income with two children and four adults living in my home. Two of the adults have mental health issues that prevent them from working. One was working but thanks to his issues and a sinking economy, he lost his job.
Allowing children coverage under their parents' plans until the age of 26 helps those of us with the mental health issues that run amok in my family. Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act doesn't address people with mental health issues that can't fend for themselves after the age of 26. I'd like to see that age limit increase.
I'm also raising my grandchildren and wonder how this will affect them. They see a psychiatrist every three months and a therapist once a week. I've lost forty pounds not because I'm on a diet, but because I can't afford the price of food any longer. My grandchildren eat first.
-- Mark Mason