The controversy surrounding healthcare reform does not appear as if it will end any time soon. Multiple lawsuits are currently pending regarding the federal government’s authority to enforce an individual mandate, which requires people to either buy health insurance or pay a fine.
Opponents of the mandate believe that it violates the 10th Amendment, and therefore states’ rights. The Obama administration contends that the commerce clause of the Constitution allows them to take such action, and wants the suits dismissed.
If the states’ lawsuits are allowed to reach the Supreme Court, it may take several years for the issue to be resolved. Legal experts believe that there is a slim, but not insignificant, chance that the Supreme Court would strike down the offending provision.
In that case, it will have a significant impact on how healthcare reform is implemented. While invalidating the health insurance mandate does not kill the legislation, it severely wounds it. That is because the mandate is the linchpin that holds the more popular parts of the law that expand coverage together.
The worst-case scenario is a reenactment of the New York market on a national scale. In New York State, health insurers have long been forbidden from refusing to sell policies to people with pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, nobody is required to buy a plan.
Unfortunately, the situation has devolved into increasingly costly health insurance plans that nobody but the sickest people (who are the most expensive to treat) are willing to buy. Young and healthy individuals are not entering the patient pool; therefore, insurance companies cannot spread the cost of claims among a wider population. It’s a vicious cycle: rates go even higher, which makes health insurance plans even more unappealing to those who aren’t desperate. Eventually, the insurance industry would fail to survive.
Some people hope that Washington, D.C. will be forced to go back to the healthcare reform drawing board. The conservatives behind the legal challenges want the bill repealed entirely. On the other hand, liberals who feel that the legislation is too weak hope that the failure of this strategy would result in the resurgence of interest in a single-payer health care system. In the ultimate irony for those who fear socialized medicine, private insurance could end up being dismantled in favor of government-sponsored coverage if the mandate is considered illegal.
About the Author:
Yamileth Medina is an up and coming expert on Health Insurance and Healthcare Reform. She aims to help people realize that they can find quality health insurance plans right now. Yamileth lives in Miami, FL.