In the two years I've written this feature, hundreds of consumers have asked variations to that question. The answer has almost always been something like this: You're in tough shape now, but as of Jan. 1, 2014, when the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in, that will change. That's still the answer today. But tomorrow, after the Supreme Court rules on the law, who knows?
Here's a sample of the questions I got just this week:
• My boyfriend has double hernias in the groin area. He has no insurance. A local hospital said it would cost him $10,000 to get them operated on through their charity program. It's $17,000 regular price. Is there any other insurance that would be less?
• My friend was out of work and could not afford health insurance. While in an auto repair shop picking up his vehicle, he was hit by an employee backing up a four-wheeler with a small trailer and broke his leg in seven places. The hospital bill is $34,000 and they will not budge on giving any discounts. Any idea how to deal with them?
• I will be retiring soon at 58. While I can continue our health insurance through COBRA, it is expensive. I have applied for insurance with two providers, but was rejected by both for pre-existing conditions. Where can we find less expensive health insurance?
• We currently pay $2,200 a month for insurance, plus copays. When applying for private insurance we were denied because of heart and arthritis conditions. Is there someplace we can get reasonable insurance?
Under Obamacare, all four of those consumers would soon be eligible for insurance they could afford. But the Supreme Court justices could toss out all or part of the law, or leave it untouched.
Our health-care team will start analyzing the ruling the minute it comes out, and I'll report our conclusions here as soon as I can.
In the meanwhile, here's a refresher on what, exactly, is at stake for consumers like the long-suffering people who sent in those questions.
Got a question for me? Ask it here.