DENVER — More than 20 million people who rely on the Affordable Care Act for health insurance are watching the Supreme Court case closely.
"We’re in a suspended state of fear not knowing what is going to happen next," said Laura Packard, who was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago.
Laura Packard has felt this way before, like in 2017 the last time the ACA was on the chopping block. Being a cancer survivor who runs her own business, keeping her coverage in place is a matter of life or death.
"And before the affordable care act my policy was a junk policy, so if I had been diagnosed back then, today I would be bankrupt or dead. My insurance covered almost all of it (after meeting the deductible and out of pocket maximum)" said Packard.
She fears if her cancer returns and the ACA is repealed, her options will be scarce.
"Do I have to close my small business? Do I have to find a random person with good insurance to marry? Do I have to move to Canada in the middle of a pandemic? It’s forcing impossible choices," said Packard.
Bethany Pray with the Colorado Center of Law and Policy says, repealing the ACA could also have widespread economic impacts for Colorado.
"More people going into hospitals and clinics without coverage would result in those clinics [and hospitals] having less income, and that means a lot for different regions of the state, where their health providers might be a really big piece of their economy," said Pray.
As the Supreme Court’s decision looms, there is one thing people can do now.
"I think the first thing people should do is make sure they're enrolled in coverage," said Pray.
Although Laura Packard doesn’t believe the ACA is perfect, it’s already helped keep her alive.
"This is not just an argument about words or an academic exercise. There are real people’s lives at stake and there is no alternate plan to cover people," said Packard.