Number of uninsured Americans rises
October 5, 2020 - The number of Americans without health insurance climbed to more than 33 million in 2019 -- the highest number in five years -- and could escalate by a further 20 million if the Supreme Court repeals the Affordable Care Act.
On June 25, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare.” If successful, the move would wipe out health insurance coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.
The administration joined Republican officials in 18 states, arguing that in 2017, Congress, then controlled by Republicans, had rendered the law unconstitutional when it ended a tax penalty for not buying insurance -- the so-called “individual mandate.”
The court’s ruling could determine health insurance access for millions, especially those who have lost their employer-sponsored insurance amid layoffs triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank, estimated that the rise in unemployment resulted in around 6.2 million workers losing access to health insurance.
Before the passage of Obamacare, health insurers could deny coverage, limit payouts or charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
If the Supreme Court were to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, those protections would likely go away. Republicans have said they would ensure coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, but have not provided specific policy proposals to that end.
The Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on November 10, one week after Election Day, on whether Obamacare is null and void.
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