WASHINGTON, November 17, 2014 — Ever vigilant in their quest, opponents of Obamacare seem bound and determined to use any means necessary to destroy the landmark healthcare reform legislation. With King v. Burwell expected to be argued before the Supreme Court in March, 2015, those in the individual market who rely on tax credits to help make health insurance affordable may find they are no longer eligible for government assistance.
Relying on the technical wording of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, supporters of King v. Burwell argue only those purchasing health insurance through a State health insurance exchange are eligible for tax credits. Given that 36 out of 50 States have not created their own exchanges, millions of Americans could discover they are not eligible for the tax credits they need to help pay for their healthcare.
Despite the reality that alternatives to Obamacare would probably include tax credits without the safeties to ensure providers cannot simply raise premiums on the sick or sell junk insurance, opponents would rather destroy the Affordable Care Act than improve upon it. Most ironic, however, is that those fighting Obamacare are those who typically fight for business and increased free market competition.
Should the Supreme Court decide tax credits can only be used by the few who come from a State that bothered to set up its own exchange, consumers will be hurt when they can no longer afford coverage. Not only will millions of Americans lose future access to tax credits, which means the so-called individual mandate will become a poison pill that Republicans can use to cram their healthcare reforms down the throats of Americans, they may well end up having to pay back the tax credits they already received. If not, health insurance providers will have to eat the loss or sue their newest customers.
At the same time, access to tax credits for the State Exchanges undermines consumer choice. Where healthcare.gov had a rough start, to say the least, the few State exchanges that do exist certainly have their own share of issues. Without alternatives to help push standards higher, those looking for health insurance are stuck with problems that might arise in any given exchange. As such, those “free market” opponents of Obamacare, who love consumer choice, are actually fighting to restrict consumer choice by trying to limit who and how consumers can use tax credits to purchase health insurance.
Furthermore, the function of healthcare.gov is, essentially, to help consumers find coverage online, yet it is not a thoroughly new concept. Private companies like eTeleQuote have for years served as a “marketplace” for those looking to buy health insurance online. Given eTeleQuote has already developed complimentary services to Medicare in order to help users find supplementary plans to cover what Medicare does not through their Medigap plans, for example, the private industry could easily rival the federal and State exchanges, if their customers can use tax credits.
Moreover, opponents of Obamacare seeking to limit accessibility to tax credits are inhibiting private industry from competing against a government service, which they feel the government should not be providing. Their stringent opposition to Obamacare is actually preventing the private sector from seizing upon the new opportunities that are arising due to necessary changes in the healthcare system. Instead of sabotaging the Affordable Care Act, opponents need to use the basic infrastructure Obamacare created and unleash the power of the private industry to engineer a better healthcare system for all Americans.