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TheStreet Open House

Americans React To Historic Health Care Decision

Stocks in this article: SYK

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Name: Michael Esch

Home: Warwick, N.Y.

Age: 49

Occupation: Works for medical device company

Insurance coverage: Employer-sponsored plan

Esch, a father of three, lost his job in November in a layoff his employer said resulted from Obama's health law. He had worked for medical device maker Stryker Corp. for six years. The company announced in November it intended to lay off 1,000 workers worldwide to save money ahead of a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices that starts in 2013.

The tax is meant to help pay for expanding health coverage to uninsured Americans. The Obama administration argues device companies will gain in the long run as more patients become eligible to receive their products because they have insurance. Republicans working to repeal the tax call it a job-killer.

Esch worked half a year as a hospital purchasing agent, at lower pay, before landing another job in the medical device industry. He said he will catch up to his former salary level next year.

"There was hardship in there," Esch said. "I think it's going to be typical of this business for a while as companies attempt to adjust to the increased tax on them."

He blames the tax for the loss of his job, but is grateful for the provision in the health care law that will allow his oldest child, now a college junior, to stay on his insurance until age 26.

Esch said he is pleased the law was upheld, but also that the high court pronounced the penalty for not buying insurance a "tax."

"It adds a word the American people will pay attention to," he said.

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Name: Carlton Grimmett

Home: Atlanta

Age: 43

Employment: Night security guard at upscale apartment complex

Coverage: Uninsured

Two years ago, Grimmett had a job with good insurance and a wife with diabetes and other health problems. But then his job, doing plumbing and HVAC work at an Atlanta university, was outsourced and he no longer could cover his wife's medical bills.

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