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Jobless, uninsured concerned over health care reform

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CHAPEL HILL -- The fact everyone will need to buy some form of health care coverage by 2014 leaves some jobless and uninsured North Carolinians with concerns.

"You pray that you don't get sick and have to go to a doctor because you don't have it,” said Raleigh resident Marissa Gray, who is searching for a job.

Like many, Gray can't afford insurance. Even if she lands a job, Gray feels low wages make it unfair to legally require everyone to have insurance by 2014.

"Shelter is a priority, food is a priority, so you think about all of those and which comes first," asked Gray.

The state's leading health insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, said the Affordable Care Act will provide premium subsidies to help uninsured people purchase coverage.

"It puts limits on how much a person has to pay out of pocket to buy insurance coverage,” said Barbara Morales Burke, the vice president of Health Policy. β€œOn the other hand though, there is the actual cost of insurance which will be, for many people, subsidized by federal funds."

Under the act, companies like Blue Cross will no longer be able to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition.

"It means that today people who we currently decline to cover, who do have the ability to buy coverage through the high risk pool here in North Carolina, will instead be able to buy coverage from us," said Morales Burke.

"There's no way I could afford it, to have surgeries, if I did not have the coverage. So I think it's a step in the right direction," said Mary Ferguson, who does have health insurance coverage.

Still, many like Gray are concerned if the health care reform will expand their access and improve their quality of care.

"I think we're all just waiting to see how it works," said Gray.

When the new requirements take effect in 2014, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina will focus on trying to reduce the rate of growth in customers premiums. The health care provider also plan to find new ways to reduce rising medical costs for customers.

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