By: Alex Hahn, InternPosted on June 29, 2015 Issues: Health Care Supreme Court

Crisis averted! The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the Affordable Care Act. The case, King v. Burwell, challenged a key component of the law.

As a 24-year-old graduate student, I spend most of my time focusing on classes, internships and making the most of my time in school. My time shouldn’t be spent worrying about my health insurance. Before the ACA, my options for health insurance wouldn’t have been great. Fortunately, the law created more options for people like me. In particular, it provides tax credits to help people with low and moderate incomes buy health insurance through the Marketplace. About 28 percent of those enrolled in the Marketplace are young adults 18-34. A recent Supreme Court case put this coverage at risk.

The Case

In King v. Burwell, the court ruled that the ACA allows the Obama administration to provide these tax credits to states in the federal Marketplace. The plaintiffs took issue with language in the ACA that specifies that tax credits are available to individuals enrolled in “exchanges established by the state.” States have the option of creating their own state-based Marketplace or participating in the federal Marketplace.

The plaintiffs challenged the Obama administration’s determination that tax credits are available to people in all states, regardless of whether they are in state-based or federal Marketplaces. In its ruling, the Supreme Court determined that when reading the law as a whole, it is clear that the intent of Congress was to provide tax credits for all states.

The Impact

Most people (85 percent) enrolled in the Marketplace receive tax credits to help make their insurance affordable. Almost 6.4 million people buy insurance with tax credits through the federal Marketplace. Of this group, 54 percent are women [PDF]. Thanks to the court’s ruling, this means 3.5 million women will keep their tax credits that allow them to buy health insurance. In addition, there are millions more women who are currently eligible for tax credits, but not yet enrolled who could use tax credits to purchase health insurance in the future. Altogether, nearly 7 million women will keep access to affordable coverage.

Why This Matters:

  • Financial security. Without these tax credits, coverage would have been out of reach for many women. Thanks to the court’s decision, women won’t be forced to choose between critically-needed health care and other basic needs.
  • Important health services. Women will keep access to affordable birth control, mammograms and maternity care, just to name a few vital services.
  • Stability of the law. Financial help, in the form of tax credits, is one of the key components of the law. Thanks to the court’s ruling, the individual insurance market in 37 states will remain stable.

Many people depend on these tax credits to get the health insurance coverage they need, including young adults and students with limited options like me. This decision is a huge relief for millions of women who will now be able to keep the affordable health coverage they depend on.