DAVID GREENE, HOST:
A number - 6.4 million. That's roughly how many people have health insurance through the Federal Health Exchange, healthcare.gov, starting January 1. As for actually paying for that coverage there's a big question looming in 2015. The Supreme Court could decide that people in the Federal Exchange are not entitled to subsidies to help with the bills. Julie Rovner reports.
JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: A working website and more insurance company competition has led to brisk health insurance enrollment. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told reporters...
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SYLVIA BURWELL: Through Friday, December 19, nearly 6.4 million consumers selected a plan or were automatically reenrolled into their current plan or one with similar benefits. More than 1.9 million signed up for the first time.
ROVNER: Those who were automatically reenrolled or who haven't signed up yet can change plans or enroll until February 15. After that most people won't be able to get coverage until 2016. And next year the penalties for not having insurance go up. But there's potential trouble on the horizon in the form of a case before the Supreme Court. Plaintiffs in the case claim that subsidies to help people pay for insurance shouldn't be available in the 37 states where the federal government is running the exchange because of the specific way the health law is worded. Burwell, however, wouldn't say if the Obama administration is making contingency plans for an adverse ruling.
BURWELL: What we're doing right now is focus deeply on what is in front of us right now. And that is the open enrollment period because we believe that we are in place where our argument and our position will prevail.
ROVNER: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in March. A decision is expected in late June. For NPR News, I'm Julie Rovner.
GREENE: Julie of course a familiar voice on this program. Her story comes to us from our partner Kaiser Health News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.