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"I feel sorry for the folks that don't have jobs that afford them enough money to go to the doctor," Durham resident June Turner told ABC11. "I'm grateful to the doctors for saving my life, but I can't pay what they're asking."
Turner is among the 97% of North Carolinians with health insurance. A retired administrative assistant, she still purchases insurance from her former employer with the help of her pension. Admittedly, she has not closely followed the health-care saga in the U.S. Senate, but she said any outcome wouldn't have changed the current facts on the ground.
"Isn't it funny that I worked for over 30 years and they didn't pay me enough to where I can afford to pay my doctor's bill?" she said.
Still, Turner expressed some relief that Congress did not send a final bill to President Donald Trump; at least now people know what they're dealing with instead of facing an uncertain future.
"I'm thankful I have health insurance," Turner said.
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That sentiment was echoed by some health care professionals, including the North Carolina Hospital Association.
"More people are covered - that's always a good thing," NCHA President Stephen Lawler told ABC11. "We want to keep the conversation going to improve our health-care system, but we are also doing our best now to educate patients and their families."
Without a repeal, the most popular aspects of the Affordable Care Act remain, including how most plans sold to individuals and small businesses must cover, at a minimum, the following "essential health benefits," as listed on the NC Department of Insurance:
- Ambulatory patient services
- Emergency Services
- Maternity and newborn care
- Mental health and substance abuse disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
- Laboratory services
- Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
- Pediatric services, including oral and vision care
Insurance companies are also prohibited from denying coverage to patients for any previous condition that they may have had, and may not charge more for women than men.
On the other hand, with Obamacare remaining the law of the land, so do the numerous rules, regulations, mandates and taxes that remain a burden on families and businesses alike.
According to the NC Department of Insurance, just five health insurance companies offer policies to North Carolina residents: Aetna Health, Inc., Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, CIGNA Health and Life Insurance Company, CIGNA Healthcare of North Carolina, Inc., and National Foundation Life Insurance Company.
Limiting the supply even more, only Blue Cross Blue Shield and CIGNA Healthcare participate in the federal Health Insurance Marketplace on HealthCare.gov.
Both of North Carolina's senators expressed their disappointment with the U.S. Senate's failure to pass any new health care bills.
"I am disappointed that the Senate could not pass legislation to address the health care crisis facing our country," Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, said in a statement to ABC11. "Though we were unable to come to a resolution, our health care system is still broken, costs continue to rise, and Americans have fewer options for health care coverage. I will continue to keep my promise to North Carolinians by working to provide relief to families burdened by the unbearable weight of Obamacare."
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, echoed a similar sentiment, saying, "The majority of members of Congress made a promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare with solutions that will help control the cost of premiums and provide more choices and flexibility for families and individuals. While today's vote was unsuccessful, we cannot accept the status quo as Obamacare continues down an unsustainable path, and Congress has an obligation to keep pursuing solutions to fix our nation's broken health care system."