ACA's Fate Likely Revealed Tomorrow

A US Supreme COurt Decision on the legality of the Affordable Care Act is expected Monday, June 19. Analysts are predicting no winners. It will be expensive eiither way the court decides.

The US Supreme Court will likely hand down its decision tomorrow on King vs. Burwell, one state's challenge to the legality of federal subsidies to health premiums paid by patients under the Affordable Care Act.

Analysts and federal agencies are predicting dire financial consequences if the court agrees with the plaintiffs.

Critics of the ACA have long charged that the program is too costly.

But at the Congressional Budget Office, a June 19 report says that halting the program would also be expensive.

“Repealing the ACA would increase federal budget deficits by $137 billion over the 2016-2025 period, ” the government auditors wrote. The CBO analysis looks at the impact of repeal on insurance coverage, direct spending and revenues related to insurance coverage, the effect on Medicare, Medicaid and other programs.

Without subsidies, people in states where health insurance exchanges have been set up by the federal government as allowed under the ACA face stiff increases in premiums.

A report from Avalere Health estimates the average annual consumer out-of-pocket contribution to ACA premiums would be $3,300 if the court rules premium subsidies are illegal. In another report, Avalere also found that exchanges run by the federal government retained a higher percentage of 2014 enrollees and got more people to enroll this year than did states running their own exchanges.

Dismantling the ACA would also have an impact on several major insurance plans. Most major insurers, including Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealth Group and most Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans sell coverage on the federally-backed exchanges, a Forbes report noted.

The US Supreme Court releases its decisions according to a schedule and the King vs. Burwell ruling could be announced at 10 am Monday, June 22.