More than 10 million people have signed up and paid their premiums to start their coverage of plans purchased on the federal health insurance exchange, according to data released Tuesday from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Almost 12 million individuals selected exchange plans through the end of open enrollment in February. By March 31, 10.2 million had paid their premiums. That shows that the exchanges "are working," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a statement.
Although that's good news for insurers welcoming the consumers into their membership, it also means that more than 6 million people are at risk of losing their federal subsidies depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules later this month in King v. Burwell.
That's because of those 10.2 million people, 6.4 million received subsidies to help them afford coverage sold on Healthcare.gov. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia run their own exchanges, and would not be affected by the King v. Burwell verdict, but the remaining 34 states use the federal exchange. States with the highest percentage of consumers receiving subsidies were Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, Wyoming and Louisiana, placing insurers operating in those states most at risk.
If the high court rules against the Obama administration, those consumers would lose their subsidies, which total about $1.7 billion a month, or an average of $272 per enrollee.
The new data provide the best available estimate to date of how many people could be affected by the King v. Burwell case, Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Washington Post.
It also shows the importance of subsidies for Healthcare.gov plans to the Affordable Care Act's functioning, Gary Claxton, a vice president and director of the healthcare marketplace project at Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Wall Street Journal. Absent subsidies, "the market would fall apart in those states," he said.