BOISE-- Viewers have asked countless questions about Thursday's Supreme Court decision to uphold President Obama's controversial health care reforms.

We've got answers.

To get them, we interviewed Dr. David Pate, CEO of St. Luke's Healthcare System, along with Karen Early, director of corporate communication for Blue Cross of Idaho.

Keep in mind their opinions relect the mission statements of their individual companies.


What if I have health insurance already? Will my premiums go up?

Premiums will go up, especially for young people, Pate said. Premiums for older people may stay the same or go down. It's going to change what's called the slope. Instead of older people paying a lot more for their premiums than younger people, it's going to be more even. So younger people will pay more, older people will probably pay less.

What if I don't have health insurance, but I want insurance and can t afford it

Well, under this law ... people with lower income, depending on where you are on the federal poverty level, will be able to get a subsidy from the federal government to help buy insurance through one of those exchanges, said Karen Early, director of corporate communication for Blue Cross of Idaho.

What if I don t have health insurance, and I don't want health insurance?

If you don't want it, that's okay, the first year you'll have to pay a $95 penalty and that's going to escalate over time very quickly to about $695 in 2016, said Early.

If that's the premise, is that we're going to get people to get insurance because of the penalty, then the penalty needs to outweigh the cost of the insurance. It doesn't, said Dr. David Pate, CEO of St. Luke's Healthcare System.

What happens to small business owners?

Small businesses who offer insurance to their employees, if their employees make within certain limits of income, they are entitled to a federal tax credit, that's something that helps small employers offer insurance, said Early.

Will it be easier to get insurance?

Availability is going to be about the same, the subsidies will be available for people, but one big difference is that we're probably not going to be able to offer the really low-cost products that we have right now, said Early. Some of the products that we have won't fit the federal guidelines, where now you could buy insurance for maybe $60, that same product, because of the federal requirements, is going to cost over $200 for the same person.

My own personal view is we ought to figure out how to improve the costs before we add a whole lot more people to a very broken system, said Pate.

How will we get insurance?

If you don t get it through your employer, it will come through an insurance exchange.

An insurance exchange is a market place, said Early. It's a place to shop and with today's Internet, the way we can have people shop is on the Internet. The most important thing about the exchange is that people who are going to be entitled to subsidies to help them pay for that insurance, only get subsidy in marketplace. It's really important that Idaho have a state-based exchange. If we don't have a state-based exchange, we will have a federal-based exchange; the federal government will be running the Idaho marketplace. If the federal government does it, we will not have any control over what's offered and how it's offered. We will not be able to customize that marketplace to Idaho's needs.

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