The Health of Women and Families Will Be at Stake in ‘King v. Burwell’

December 17, 2014

On March 4, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case King v. Burwell. The stakes could not be higher for women, for our health care system and for our country. The Court’s ruling in this case could determine whether premium tax credits available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be available to consumers who enroll in coverage through the federally facilitated marketplace (FFM).

Right now, premium tax credits — which reduce the cost of health coverage — are available to FFM enrollees from 37 states. The Court’s decision in King v. Burwell could determine whether they will maintain, or lose, their access to those tax credits.

In 2014, more than eight in ten FFM enrollees qualified for premium tax credits. Women comprise a majority of FFM enrollees — 55 percent — and would be disproportionately affected if those credits were taken away.

For many women, losing premium tax credits would mean that their coverage would no longer be affordable, and many would go without it. Losing coverage, in turn, would mean they would have no choice but to forego health care they simply cannot afford.

Moreover, taking away affordable health coverage would jeopardize women’s economic security, independence and protection. For many women, access to affordable individual health care coverage in the marketplace means that they are no longer reliant on a spouse or employer for coverage. Before marketplace coverage was available, women were more likely than men to be covered as a dependent on a spouse’s plan, leaving them more vulnerable to losing coverage in the event of divorce or death of their spouse.

King v. Burwell poses a direct threat to the affordable health plans on which millions of low- and middle-income Americans rely. Limiting subsidies to state-based marketplaces would force patients and families to go without the care they need and cause health care costs to rise dramatically. At the National Partnership for Women & Families, we are urging the Supreme Court to preserve access to comprehensive, affordable coverage and care for all.

Learn more about what’s at stake in this case.

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