Studying business at COCC, 24-year old Tiffany Bradley has two kids, 2-year-old Jocelyn and 6-month-old Jace. Without the Oregon Health Plan, not all of them would have insurance.
"On myself, I would probably be able to pass it up. But for my kids, I would have to have it," Bradley said Thursday.
In 2014, that cost-saving choice will no longer be so simple. A penalty, deemed a tax by the Supreme Court, of $285 or 1 percent of income will be charged per family for not having insurance. Another key provision that could impact local families: Starting in 2014, health insurance plans cannot exclude people based on pre-existing conditions.
"Having to actually be told that you have to have health insurance is going to make it so much more stressful for me, and I'm sure quite a few other people," said Bradley.
"The reality is, whether you like all of the aspects of the bill or you don't, there are fundamental and substantial changes. It is the law of the land, and all of us need to embrace it and move forward," said Jim Diegel, CEO and president of St Charles Health System.
Happy with Thursday's ruling, he says change was coming to the nation's health care system, either way.
"It's happening organically, regardless of whether the Supreme Court upheld or overturned all or parts of the affordable care act today," said Diegel.
A key example: A new coordinated care model approved Wednesday for Central Oregon. In essence, it gives local health providers more control over payment of federal and state supported service programs like Medicare.
The same kind of services that could prove crucial for Tiffany and her kids.