What The Supreme Court Obamacare Ruling Means For You, No Matter What State You're In
On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act, which will uphold a clause regarding access to subsidized healthcare in 34 states. The controversial Obamacare case centered around whether states are required to individually offer subsidies and exchanges in order for their citizens to receive affordable healthcare coverage, or if citizens can receive subsidies through the federally run HealthCare.gov.
The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell argued that since the ACA references those who are enrolled "through an exchange established by the state," anyone in a state that opted out of establishing an exchange in favor of the federal government would be ineligible for the benefits of the ACA. The idea is that rather than looking at the large intent of the ACA, the nation should follow the law as written.
It seems simple enough, until you take into account that currently only 13 states have established their own exchange systems. There are 34 states who did not, and individuals in those states who do not have Medicaid or access to viable employer-provided insurance have been purchasing their subsidized health insurance through HealthCare.gov. This means that had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, SCOTUS would have negated the ACA-sponsored health insurance plans currently used by individuals within those 34 states.
The benefits of this ruling would have reduced tax subsidies by an estimated $29 million in 2016, but those cuts would have come at the expense of 8.2 million suddenly uninsured Americans. For those who had non-subsidized insurance, rates could have risen as much as 35 percent in order to adjust for the sudden decrease in customers.
King v. Burwell is the third ruling the Supreme Court has handed out regarding the ever-contentious ACA. Although the court in 2012 found Obamacare (which required that all individuals must purchase health care or pay a tax) to be constitutional, it also ruled against the contraception clause last year. As a result, family-owned businesses are not required to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees if it goes against the religious beliefs of the owners. Many ACA supporters did not agree with the ruling, stating that it favored corporate rights over the rights of women.
The long-awaited ruling is instrumental in determining the future of the ACA. Had the court ruled against the ACA, Obamacare would have been severely crippled and vulnerable to further censure by Republican interests and legislation. As it stands, the court's decision firmly upholds the intent and accessibility of affordable health care for all citizens.