A group of doctors protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The argument against the individual health-insurance mandate as federal overreach is specious at best, ignorant at worst. The states require auto owners to carry minimum insurance — liability coverage — to cover damages caused by those drivers to others. The money goes into a single, all-encompassing pool that covers all. So, the young and the reckless must pay in to protect the old and careful. Similarly, regarding health insurance, the young and the healthy must pony up into the single pool to care for the old and sick, for one day, against all odds, they too will find themselves in the latter category.

Rick Flowe, Manassas Park

Robust private health-insurance systems such as those in Switzerland require three components to be successful: protections for patients with preexisting conditions, subsidies and a strong individual mandate. If you take away or weaken the individual mandate, insurance risk pools will be increasingly filled with older, sicker individuals with higher health-insurance costs. The higher health-insurance costs will lead to increased health-care premiums, which will discourage younger, healthier individuals from signing up for private health insurance.

With fewer healthier, low-cost subscribers to balance out sicker, higher-cost individuals, premiums will skyrocket, and insurance will become increasingly unaffordable. Eliminating the individual mandate will undermine private health-insurance markets and pave the way for Medicare for all. 

Anand Narayan, Timonium, Md.

It baffles me why corporations want to retain the obligation to pay for health insurance for their employees. Without the expense, products could be priced more competitively against goods from foreign countries where health care is socialized. U.S. companies have successfully offloaded pensions and gamed taxes. Why pay for insurance?

The answer, in part, is the tax deduction; shareholders and taxpayers subsidize payments. Insurance premiums are thus socialized. The problem is not with the spreading of the risk, which is how insurance works. Spreading expense among more people reduces costs for everyone and enables coverage for more people.

The problem is with the overall number, which gets quite large. Medicaid is a big number. But Medicaid pays for half the births in  the United States and two-thirds of nursing-home patients. Cutting Medicaid means babies born without medical care and people without access to nursing homes. 

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 inadvertently proved a bad idea. The result of companies escaping pension obligations is that the typical 60-year-old has saved less than $100,000 for retirement, let alone nursing care. The baby boomer population bulge rapidly entering senior years is in big trouble. The problem does not disappear just because we balk at the big number.

Stuart Brown, Washington