Kristen Clark remembers the days when buying health insurance used to be not only complex but also prohibitively expensive. “A lot of times, it's like paying a second mortgage,” she said.
The looming U.S. Supreme Court ruling threatening to wipe out premium subsidies in up to 37 states could force Clark and millions of other Americans to experience those days all over again.
Clark, 31, her husband, and their two daughters live in Delaware, Ohio, just north of Columbus. She is a stay-at-home mom, and her husband is a minister earning a modest income. This year, they bought coverage on Ohio's federal exchange from InHealth Mutual, the state's not-for-profit co-op insurer created under the Affordable Care Act.
Her family is relatively healthy, Clark said. Like most people, she wants health coverage for her children and to protect against worst-case scenarios. The plan they bought had all of their doctors in network. They received a subsidy under the ACA, which cut their monthly premium by about half, to less than $400 per month. “It helps having a subsidy because we can afford it a whole lot easier,” Clark said.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to issue its decision in King v. Burwell this month, and those premium subsidies are in danger. The plaintiffs argue that premium tax credits are only available through “an exchange established by the state” and not through the federally run exchanges. The Obama administration argues that the law read in its entirety makes clear that subsidies are allowed in all states.