Obamacare Goes Back to the Supreme Court

Written by: Christina Merhar
Originally published on March 9, 2015. Last updated March 13, 2015.

Obamacare is back in the Supreme Court.

This time around, the Supreme Court is hearing King vs. Burwell which questions the legality of the premium tax credits offered through the federally-run Health Insurance Marketplaces. Last week, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments, which means all eyes are on this newest challenge to the Affordable Care Act.Obamacare Goes Back to the Supreme Court

This briefing summarizes what you need to know about Obamacare and the most recent Supreme Court hearings.

Overview of King vs. Burwell

The King vs. Burwell lawsuit claims the language in the Affordable Care Act doesn’t allow the federally-run Health Insurance Marketplace to provide premium tax credits - a crucial component of Obamacare.

The crux of the lawsuit comes down to six words describing eligibility for premium tax credits (“an exchange established by the state”). Only 16 states currently operate their own Exchange, with the remaining states relying on the federally run marketplace,

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last Wednesday, and met in private to discuss (and possibly decide on) the case last Friday.

However, it may still be several weeks for the Supreme Court to decide, write, and announce their final decision.

How King vs. Burwell Could Impact You

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of King vs. Burwell, it is estimated that 9.6 million people could lose health insurance coverage. It’s specific impact, however, varies by stakeholder.

HealthData Management provided a summary of the impact by stakeholder. Here’s a summary of their analysis.

  1. Employers - While most employers won’t be directly impacted, their employees will be. Thus, it should be a concern for employers in states using the federal Exchange.

  2. Employees - Employees who get insurance through work may not see a big change, however as HealthData points out, it would have a significant impact on employees using the federal Exchange to purchase coverage.

  3. Benefits Advisers - Benefit advisors will have a role of educating clients about any changes. Rick Lindquist, President of Zane Benefits, was quoted saying, “We are telling our clients that we are prepared for when this happens, and we will help you make any change.”

  4. Insurers - If the Supreme Court invalidates premium tax credits in the federally-run Marketplace, the individual health insurance market will become much more unstable.

  5. Hospital and Providers - According to HealthData, hospital and healthcare groups have supported the government’s contention that the ACA was intended to provide premium tax credits for individuals.

Many onlookers are skeptical that the premium tax credits will be overturned.

However, if the Supreme Court does invalidate the premium tax credits in the federal Exchange, onlookers anticipate that action will be made quickly to introduce new legislation to make them available to all individuals.

Additional Analysis

For additional analysis on Obamacare and the Supreme Court, see these news sources:

What do you think will happen with Obamacare and the Supreme Court? Leave a comment.

Originally published on March 9, 2015. Last updated March 13, 2015.


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