King v. Burwell Highlights Need for Obamacare Alternatives

King v. Burwell Highlights Need for
Obamacare Alternatives

Exchange Plans Restrictive and Unaffordable Even with Subsidies

Good morning,

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in King v. Burwell that health insurance subsidies provided to Pennsylvanians on the federal exchange are legal. Some Pennsylvanians can continue to receive taxpayer subsidies to purchase health insurance on But even with subsidies, many plans are restrictive and unaffordable, highlighting the need for alternatives to the Affordable Care Act. 

“While we applaud Governor Wolf for withdrawing plans to implement a costly and ineffective state exchange, the status quo is simply not serving health care consumers well,” commented Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation. “State officials should put pressure on Congress to make health insurance more accessible by reducing costs rather than shifting costs to taxpayers.

“Highmark, Pennsylvania’s largest insurer, is seeking premium increases of 23 to 39 percent next year. That financial burden is unsustainable for Pennsylvanians even with taxpayer subsidies. Alternatives to Obamacare must be considered.”

The Heritage Foundation estimates that simply eliminating three Obamacare regulations—age-rating rules, actuarial value restrictions, and benefit mandates—would significantly reduce premiums. These reforms would result in a 45% decrease for a 21 year old Pennsylvanian and a 9% decrease for a 61 year old Pennsylvanian (based on bronze plan rates).

Beyond the dollars and cents, Stelle says exchange enrollees want relief from Obamacare rules:

“According to a recent poll, a majority of federal exchange enrollees reported a less-than-positive Obamacare experience. Over 70% want reform that will help all Americans. Specifically, they want more plan choices, more time to get coverage, and more flexible subsidies. It’s time to take a hard look at the negative consequences Pennsylvanians are experiencing because of Obamacare.”


John Bouder
Senior Communications Officer
Commonwealth Foundation

[email protected]