Why does the individual mandate matter?

Across the country, there has been a lot of discussion about repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a federal law which has largely benefitted New Hampshire by helping Granite Staters get the health care they need and deserve. Most significantly, the ACA has allowed the Granite State to expand Medicaid, which has been critical in ensuring access to quality and affordable health care for New Hampshire’s residents.

Another important piece of the health care puzzle in our state is the ACA’s individual mandate, which requires that all individuals who can afford health insurance purchase at least a minimally comprehensive policy.  The mandate is a key provision of the ACA and helps to support insurance markets across the country.

In the most recent move to repeal the ACA federally, the Senate is now considering a tax plan proposal which includes a repeal of the individual mandate.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the nonpartisan organization that analyzes proposed legislation, repealing the individual mandate would cause 13 million people in the U.S. to lose health coverage. While some of those individuals would choose not to buy insurance, for many more, the increased costs of health insurance would price them out of the market, leaving Granite Staters unable to afford the coverage they need.

Here’s what a repeal of the individual mandate would mean for New Hampshire residents:

  • Increased health insurance premiums: The individual mandate incentivizes younger, healthier individuals to sign up for health care coverage, stabilizing the insurance market. If those healthier individuals leave the market, as expected without a mandate, premiums would skyrocket for the sicker individuals who stay in.
     
  • Loss of health care coverage: The increased premiums for those who remain in the market place, including sicker individuals with preexisting conditions, would mean they could no longer afford coverage. Our weakest and most vulnerable residents would end up losing coverage they need.

The Senate is likely to vote this week on the tax bill, which could also have devastating impacts on critical Medicaid and Medicare programs, according to the CBO. For the health and wellness of the Granite State, we encourage our U.S. Senators to vote no on the tax bill and deal with health care reform as a separate issue.