In King v. Burwell, the Court looked at whether or not federal financial assistance under the ACA — in the form of premium subsidies or tax credits — should be available in all 50 states or only in the 16 states and the District of Columbia that have established their own state-based Marketplaces. The vast majority (about 87 percent) of people signing up for Marketplace insurance have received premium subsidies to help afford coverage, with an average subsidy of $263 per person per month to help afford health insurance premiums.
Today’s ruling upheld the availability of premium subsidies that help make health insurance affordable for about 6.4 million low- and middle-income Americans who have signed up for coverage in the 34 states using the federally facilitated Marketplace (FFM). All told, an estimated 9.3 million people are eligible for affordable coverage in the 34 states and can continue to have access to this benefit. The Court strongly recognized that Congress intended in passing the ACA for all of these individuals to have coverage, concluding “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.” Today’s opinion was written by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan (Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito dissented).
If they had ruled against Burwell and in favor of the plaintiff “King,” it would have had a staggering, real-life impact on millions of men, women, and families. In particular, in the 34 states using the federally funded marketplace, approximately 4.1 million women — including 1.4 million women of color — have signed up for affordable health insurance and would have been at risk of losing their coverage. Of those who would have been at risk in this case, nearly 5 million are low-income Americans earning less than $24,000 a year. A ruling in favor of King would have created chaos in the insurance market, thereby impacting far more than those who receive premium subsidies. Health insurance premiums would have skyrocketed for those seeking coverage both inside and outside the Marketplaces, with and without subsidies — if the Court had ruled for King, insurance premiums were estimated to increase 35 percent, or a spike of about $1,460 per year.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for millions of low- and middle-income women and families who can now rest assured that their affordable health coverage will not be stripped away,” said Amanda West, Director of Government Relations for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. “Thanks to today’s decision, millions of women and families in all 50 states can continue to access financial assistance that has helped them afford health coverage – many for the first time – including access to affordable birth control, maternity and prenatal care, and mammograms. The result of this lawsuit further establishes the Affordable Care Act in the fabric of our health care system. For politicians who have spent the past five years trying to take away affordable coverage for millions of people, it’s time to move on.”
Find out more about about how Planned Parenthood helps to fight for health care for everyone by visiting our My Life, My Health page.