- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Physically and financially, yoga instructor Michael Morris already is stretched thin and his health insurance premiums would quadruple if the U.S. Supreme Court eliminates the tax subsidy he gets through President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law.

“We pay just over $200 a month, which is not the easiest thing for us, but we can do it,” he said. “There’s no way we could afford insurance without the credit.”

The court on Wednesday began determining whether the health law limits tax credits to people who live in states that created their own health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. New Hampshire is one of roughly three dozen states that opted not to set up a marketplace and instead relies on the federal healthcare.gov portal, and about 70 percent of the nearly 53,000 New Hampshire residents who have signed up for coverage qualified for tax credits averaging $250 per month.

The case focuses on four words, “established by the state,” in the law. The challengers say Congress wanted to limit subsidies to consumers who get their insurance through a marketplace, or exchange, that was established by a state.

Morris and his wife went without insurance for years, just trying to stay as healthy as possible and paying out of pocket for health expenses as needed. But they changed their minds for the sake of their children, now 1 and 3.

“We had kids and we thought, ‘Well, that’s just not going to cut it going forward,” said Morris, 52. “We have responsibilities.”

Deborah deMoulpied, 59, owns a small shop that sells sustainable and recycled home products in Concord. Because of several pre-existing medical conditions, she had been paying $1,500 a month for a health insurance plan with a $5,000 deductible. Through the Affordable Care Act, she was able to purchase comparable coverage for $500 a month, but pays only $300 a month with her tax credit.

She said she is troubled by what she sees as a conservative bias on the Supreme Court and worries that the court will eliminate the subsidies. If that happens, she said she still would be able to pay her full premium, but her business will suffer because she won’t be able to order as much stock.

“I’m just grateful for the Affordable Care Act because it’s made a huge impact in my ability as a small businessperson, and I don’t think people realize that,” she said. “A lot of people will say that it’s made it more difficult for small businesses, and I’m here to tell you that’s not the case in this situation.”

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