In a surprise move, the Supreme Court decided Friday to hear King v. Burwell, the latest legal challenge to Obamacare. The case argues that the language of the law itself denies subsidies to insureds in states with no unique exchange; more specifically, subsidies will be provided to those who purchase coverage “through an Exchange established by the State.” The timing of this court case is not ideal for supporters of the law, as Open Enrollment approaches.
According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), dubbed “Obamacare” by its opponents, Open Enrollment is the only time during which consumers can purchase ACA-compliant health insurance, excepting those with qualifying life events like marriage, having a child, or losing your employer-sponsored coverage.1 According to Forbes, “On September 16, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) reported that there were 3.8 million fewer uninsured between last year and early this year.”2 However, these numbers may be skewed by consumers who purchased coverage on the exchange because their major medical insurance was cancelled by their carrier.
It was estimated that eighty-five percent of consumers who purchase coverage on the exchange received subsidies. If the court rules that the 36 states without their own exchange are no longer allowed to receive federal subsidies, the impact on lower income Americans will be significant.3
While the ruling is still months away, some argue that simply hearing the case is lending confusion and controversy in a system that has seen much misinformation since its inception.4 As we approach the second Open Enrollment season, one thing is certain: when it comes to Obamacare, nothing is.
1 "ObamaCare Open Enrollment." Obamacare Facts. ObamaCareFacts.com, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
2 Roy, Avik. "Clearing The Air On Obamacare's Enrollment Statistics." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 06 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
3 "Is the Affordable Care Act Working?" The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
4 Zurcher, Anthony. "Could the Supreme Court Finally Kill Obamacare?" BBC News. BBC, 11 Nov. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.