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Supreme Court case could have major impact on ACA

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Brian Stentz
Tax penalties for no health insurance coverage being rolled out
Tax penalties for no health insurance coverage being rolled out

The various aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have been controversial for some time, and some of them have even been tried in court. Soon, the U.S. Supreme Court will make a ruling on one part of the law that could have a huge impact on consumers and health insurers alike going forward, depending on how the Justices decide.

One of the reasons the ACA's health insurance coverage mandate has been so successful in terms of getting people to sign up is that the federal government typically subsidizes the cost of coverage as a means of simply making sure people are enrolled, according to a report from the Marshfield News-Herald. But now the Supreme Court is hearing a case concerning the often crucial financial assistance that could lock millions out of coverage.

The reason being that the ACA's language only allows for subsidies to be provided to those who buy coverage through state exchanges, and the argument is that those run federally should not receive that assistance, the report said. Consequently, as the case has worked its way through the court system, many health insurers haven't really been clear on what will be incumbent upon them when a final decision comes down. Marty Anderson, director of marketing for consumer products at a health insurer, told the newspaper that his company is monitoring the issue closely, and that the legal wrangling surrounding the case has actually been a source of anxious uncertainty for some time.

How big a problem would this create?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who have coverage through Healthcare.gov receive these subsidies, and without them, they could very quickly find their health insurance costs increase precipitously, the report said. That, in turn, may cause the uninsurance rate to be on the rise once again, especially 
since the federal fines imposed for not having coverage would likely be much smaller than what a person or entire family would have to pay for their private health insurance coverage.

Certainly, this is something health insurers will need to monitor closely, and before a decision is reached they will likely have to come up with contingency plans should the legality of these subsidies be struck down. Without them, millions of people might end up reducing, changing, or altogether abandoning their coverage, and anything that can be done by policy providers to prevent this will likely be beneficial to all parties involved.

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