For uninsured, Obamacare looks like a mixed bag


Toni Lewis of Puyallup, Wash., is thrilled that in spite of her pre-existing conditions, she'll be able to purchase insurance next year via Obamacare. Still, the impact the Affordable Care Act will have on her life seems mixed.

"It gives people that have a low income a chance to get insurance, those who have pre-existing conditions can get insurance again -- I have pre-existing conditions myself -- it generally helps people all around," Lewis told CBS News. "Unfortunately, I'm still one that kind of falls through the cracks."

Lewis, who stays at home as a caretaker for her son, relies on survivors' benefits she has received since her husband died on the job. Insurance will be a costly added expense for her, but she's skeptical that she's eligible for the forms of financial assistance available through the Affordable Care Act.

In Washington and 24 other states next year, anyone with an income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid. In every state, those making between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level should qualify for subsidies on the new Obamacare marketplaces.

Lewis said she's intent on getting insurance next year and has perused her insurance options on Washington state's online insurance marketplace. Before she makes a decision on a plan, she said, "I'm just trying to figure out how to juggle the extra money I need for the insurance."

    The new Obamacare marketplaces set to open next year are designed to help the approximately 15 percent of Americans who are uninsured. Yet as the latest CBS News/New York Times poll shows, uninsured Americans (like insured Americans) disapprove of the health care law overall. And while the uninsured are more likely than the insured to think the law will help them personally, slightly more still think the law will do more to hurt them than help them. Additionally, the uninsured are divided on whether the health care law will make the health care system better or worse.

Brian Cavanaugh of Clinton, Conn., told CBS News that he thinks the law will help him -- but he still disapproves of it.

As a 23-year-old, uninsured warehouse worker, Cavanaugh plans on obtaining insurance via Obamacare. He said he's primarily motivated to get insurance by the $95 tax he'd be obligated to pay otherwise. Still, he says, "It would definitely save me money if I had an accident or had to go to the doctor."

While he sees the benefits of obtaining insurance, Cavanaugh, who identifies as a Republican, said the health law doesn't square with his views about government.

"I just believe that the smaller the government is and the more efficient, the less taxes that the government imposes on us -- I feel that that's better for individual liberties," he said.

Tammy Lebarron of Springfield, Vt., is an uninsured Democrat, but she doesn't like the Affordable Care Act, and she thinks it will negatively impact her life. She doesn't plan on obtaining insurance.

"My biggest issue is that I don't believe people should be told what to do," she said. "I don't believe that you should be told whether you have to have insurance or not or have to wear your seat belt, or have to do this or that."

Lebarron currently works in a novelty store and doesn't think she can afford insurance on the individual market. "At this point in time, even if it's $40 a month, I can't afford it," she said. "So it's not going to be good."

Premiums on the Obamacare marketplaces for 2014 are actually lower than they were expected to be. In some cases, after receiving tax credits, some consumers in the market could end up paying nothing for their coverage. However, the costs vary state to state, and Vermont will have some of the highest Obamacare premiums next year.