March 04, 2015

Early Retirees Have Much at Stake in King v. Burwell

Access to Health Care and Retirement Security at Stake for people like Bonnie Mathias of Dallas

Washington, D.C. – Continued, affordable health insurance for many early retirees is among the issues at stake as the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, a lawsuit challenging provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The suit claims that it is illegal for the government to issue tax credits for health insurance in more than 30 states with federal health insurance exchanges.

“Before the Affordable Care Act, Americans who retired without employer-sponsored insurance and before they were eligible for Medicare were entirely at the mercy of insurance companies,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Early retirees could be denied coverage altogether, or saw their life savings dwindle because of exorbitant premiums available in the individual market.”

Seniors watching the outcome of the King v. Burwell case closely include Bonnie Mathias, 57, of Dallas, Texas, a member of the Alliance for Retired Americans. Prior to the ACA Ms. Mathias had to go without health insurance when the monthly premium for her retiree plan skyrocketed from $86 to $1,300 per month for Bonnie and her husband. Once she became part of the national health care exchange, however, the couple was able to obtain subsidized coverage for $211 per month.

Ms. Mathias is afraid that if the King v. Burwell case is ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor, she and her husband will once again not be able to afford coverage.

“Older Americans are at an extreme disadvantage when they are forced to fend for themselves in finding health care coverage,” said Mr. Fiesta. “The federal health care exchange addresses that problem in a way that no alternative plan even comes close to matching.”

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