Politics

400K Georgians May Lose ‘Obamacare’ Subsidies

FILE - This March 1, 2014 file photo shows part of the website for HealthCare.gov, seen in Washington. President Barack Obama’s health care law has become a tale of two Americas. States that fully embraced the law’s coverage expansion are experiencing a significant drop in the share of their residents who remain uninsured, according to an extensive new poll released Tuesday. States whose leaders still object to “Obamacare” are seeing much less change. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, cumulatively based on tens of thousands of interviews, found a drop of 4 percentage points in the share of uninsured residents for states that adopted the law’s Medicaid expansion and either built or helped run their own online insurance markets. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)
FILE - This March 1, 2014 file photo shows part of the website for HealthCare.gov, seen in Washington. President Barack Obama’s health care law has become a tale of two Americas. States that fully embraced the law’s coverage expansion are experiencing a significant drop in the share of their residents who remain uninsured, according to an extensive new poll released Tuesday. States whose leaders still object to “Obamacare” are seeing much less change. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, cumulatively based on tens of thousands of interviews, found a drop of 4 percentage points in the share of uninsured residents for states that adopted the law’s Medicaid expansion and either built or helped run their own online insurance markets. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)
Credit Jon Elswick, File / Associated Press

An audio version of this story.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of this month on a case that could mean 412,000 Georgians covered by “Obamacare” lose their subsidies. That means their monthly health insurance premiums could skyrocket.

Georgia is one of 34 states that elected not to set up its own health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act and let the federal government run its exchange instead. The high court will decide, in King v. Burwell, whether people insured through federally-run health care exchanges, such as Georgia, are still eligible for monthly subsidies.

If the court says “no,” premium prices could go up as much as five-fold in metro Atlanta, according to health care advocacy group Families USA. Using federal government data, the organization found that some 227,000 people in the metro area are at risk of losing their subsidies.

“If the court rules against the subsidies, devastation will strike both health care consumers and the health care system at large,” Ron Pollack, the group’s executive director, said.

With no subsidies, younger, healthier people would likely drop coverage, Pollack said, and the system wouldn’t be able to support itself with only older, less healthy consumers.

Georgia passed a law forbidding the state from setting up its own exchange, but Gov. Nathan Deal could ask lawmakers to change that. A spokesperson from his office says Deal will wait on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling before he makes any decision.

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