HOUSTON - The US Supreme Court is now considering arguments made today in a case initially brought by the state of Texas to overturn the Affordable Care Act. The court's decision could impact health insurance coverage for millions of Texans.
This case comes at a time when more Texans are enrolling in ACA coverage after losing their jobs and health insurance this year.
LEONARDTOWN, MARYLAND - MAY 01: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) A member of the dialysis prepares to treat a patient with coronavirus in the intensive care unit at a hospital on May 1, 2020 in Leonardtown, Maryland. The coronavirus death toll in D.C., Virginia
President-elect Joe Biden spoke out about the possibility that the Supreme Court could rule either that the requirement for people to buy health insurance, or the entire Affordable Care Act, is unconstitutional.
"This argument will determine whether healthcare coverage of more than 20 million Americans who acquired it under the Affordable Care Act will be ripped away in the middle of the nation’s worst pandemic in a century," said President-elect Biden, speaking at a press conference.
That 20 million includes one million Texans. Texas already has more than 5 million uninsured people, the highest number in the country.
That's compounded by 1.6 million Texans who lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs earlier this year due to the pandemic, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
"We're not only in a pandemic, we're facing significant job losses that haven't fully recovered yet. So those people who lost their jobs may have lost their job-based coverage," said Cynthia Cox with Kaiser Family Foundation.
That could leave more people depending on care through Medicaid or hospitals, which often have to write-off the cost of treating the uninsured.
"Under the ACA, a lot of those people that were uninsured are now on Medicaid or healthcare.gov. Hospitals could lose a lot of money from this," said Cox.
Striking down the Affordable Care Act could also end protections for young adults to be covered through their parents' policies until age 26, or for pre-existing conditions.
"Asthma, diabetes, cancer could once again be denied coverage, whether complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, will be the next screening of pre-existing conditions," said President-elect Biden.
But Texans who brought the case argue the ACA is driving up the cost of health insurance for many, including a Fort Bend man who says he has to pay $25,000 a year to cover his family of four.
The Supreme Court may not rule on the case until June.
If you don't have health insurance, you can currently enroll in ACA coverage now through December 15th here.
You can also call the United Way Helpline at 211 or go to YourTexasBenefits to see if you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP coverage.