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Marketplace experts in Joplin discuss what today's Supreme Court - KOAM TV 7

Marketplace experts in Joplin discuss what today's Supreme Court ruling means for those who qualify for subsidies

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI - In a ruling that preserves health care for millions of Americans, the Supreme Court today upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

It was a 6-3 ruling.

The court says subsidies that people currently receive to make insurance affordable, do not depend on where they live.

The outcome is the second major victory for President Obama in Supreme Court tests of the healthcare law.

Today's ruling affects 8.7 million Americans.

That includes an estimated 90 percent of the 220,000 Missouri residents currently enrolled in Marketplace plans.

A rally of those in support of the ruling was held at the Joplin Community Center this evening, with speakers who discussed the effects of the Supreme Court ruling.

The participants celebrated the continuation of federal subsidies being available to Missouri residents who qualify.

We spoke with Marketplace experts in Joplin today, who explained what this ruling means for those who do qualify.

Because of the ruling, anyone enrolled in a Marketplace plan will continue to have access to the federal subsidies they qualify for.

The discounts to monthly premium payments, that many like Joplin resident Novella Webster rely on to afford their current plan.

"It's an actual $557 policy, but I think I'm getting a $200 subsidy for it," Webster said.

Local experts say a majority of those enrolled in a Marketplace plan, do in fact qualify for a subsidy.

In the state of Missouri, that's an estimated 198,000 people receiving discounted premium rates.

HealthCare.gov notifies applicants of whether they are eligible for subsidies as part of the enrollment process.

"They can choose to wait to take it later whenever their taxes come due and get that credit at that point in time, but a majority of people do choose to go ahead and take the credit now," said Amanda Mitchell, Marketplace Grant Project Coordinator. "That way they can have their health insurance premiums reduced, and essentially be more affordable."

The amount of the federal subsidy available to you is dependent on income and household size.

Experts with the Cover Missouri Coalition say, on average, the insurance premium without a subsidy is $363, but with the subsidy, that would be lowered to $85 a month.

"Most people are very excited about what they see," Mitchell said.

And for many, a federal subsidy, upheld by this Supreme Court ruling, is the deal breaker as to whether their insurance plan is affordable.

"Definitely wouldn't be able to stay on the plan that I'm on now," Webster said.

Local healthcare navigators encourage those who have already enrolled in a Marketplace plan to check back each enrollment period to see what new options may be available to them.

The next open enrollment period for the Marketplace is Nov. 15 through Feb. 15.

However, some can qualify for special enrollment now, if they have experienced a life change, such as moving or a change in work status.

US Congressman Billy Long of Missouri is among the critics of the ruling.

He argues the court has over-stepped its boundaries, by allowing the continuation of federal subsidies in states without their own exchanges, when that practice is not specifically outlined in the Affordable Care Act.

"They worded it for states like Missouri to coerce them into setting up their own exchanges, but guess what, it didn't work," Long said. "A lot of states did not set up their own exchanges, so now they're coming back and changing the definition of what they meant by state."

House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans are vowing to repeal and replace the health care law.
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