What happens if the individual mandate falls, in one chart

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear six hours of oral arguments on the health reform law’s constitutionality. It will devote the most time to the individual mandate, asking whether Congress can require Americans to purchase insurance coverage.

The mandate is, in most health-care economists’ view, a crucial part of the health reform law. Without it, fewer Americans would buy coverage, and those who did would likely be sicker and planning to use their benefits heavily.

For health insurers, the worst-case scenario is one where the court overturns the mandate but still leaves standing the requirement that health plans accept all applicants. As less healthy Americans enrolled, premiums would most likely spike. America’s Health Insurance Plans rounds up the research that health-care economists have done, so far, estimating what striking the mandate would mean for health-care coverage and cost:


Health-care economists use different models and algorithms to game out what would happen if the high court struck the mandate down. That’s why you see some significant differences between what different studies predict. But, in general, they all expect the same outcome: Fewer Americans would gain health insurance, and it would cost more.

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