After months on the edge of our seats, the Supreme Court reached a final decision on the health care law in late June 2012. Throughout the day, America had been getting updates on the Supreme Court ruling on whether or not to continue health reform, or “ObamaCare”. Most of the regulations from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be upheld, including the individual mandate – where everyone in the country is required to have health insurance. The individual mandate will be considered a tax from here on out, which means those who do not buy health insurance and have not obtained a waiver will have to pay $695 or 2.5% of income per year (depending what is higher). This tax will be in place as of 2016.

The pre-existing condition laws and other mandates requiring health insurers to accept individuals for health plans regardless of their medical history or conditions remains in tact. Also, individuals who cannot afford insurance plans will still be able to receive tax credits to assist in paying health care costs. The effort to expand healthcare coverage and availability is still the main goal of the ACA, and these provisions will go into effect on the 1st of January, 2014.

In terms of state-run exchanges, they will still be set up according to the Supreme Court. Though many states have delayed creating their own exchanges, and three have refused the idea altogether, the ruling decided that the federal government will operate exchanges in states where state officials have neglected to organize their own.

Another important part of the Affordable Care Act was the expansion of Medicaid, making it more available to those with very low income. The law made it possible for individuals and families with income up to 133% of federal poverty level to receive health coverage through Medicaid, and also said that if a state did not participate in the expansion, the government would withhold all Medicaid funds.

The ACA would make the federal government pick up all Medicaid expansion costs from 2014 – 2016, and afterwards every state would pay increasing amounts over time, though the government will not pay less than 90%. Supreme Court ruled this rapid expansion as unrealistic and a threat to a state’s overall budget.

These rulings have made it possible to keep every individual responsible for getting a health plan, which means insurance companies will be seeing more traffic. Unfortunately for the financially needy, Medicaid will be seeing less traffic, but hopefully tax credits will assist those who need help to a sufficient enough degree.