The Urban Institute has published this policy brief which analyzes the impact of a potential ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the pending King v. Burwell case that the federal health insurance exchange cannot offer federal tax credits to assist low-income individuals in purchasing health insurance through that exchange. The argument being made in the case is that a literal reading of the sections of the Affordable Care Act that establish the health insurance exchanges and the federal tax credits only authorize state, and not the federal, health insurance exchange, to offer the federal tax credits. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on March 4, 2015. The policy brief was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The policy brief estimates that if the Supreme Court rules against the availability of the federal tax credits, 6.3 million individuals would lose their health insurance coverage because of affordability. Without the tax credits, 99% of these individuals would have to pay over 8% of their annual household income to maintain their health insurance coverage. Of those individuals likely to lose their coverage, 44% have full-time jobs and another 33% have part-time jobs. 61% of those who are likely to lose their coverage are white, 19% are Hispanic, and 15% are Black. 62% live in the South, and 25% in the Midwest.