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Striking down insurance mandate would gut health care reform

Health reform

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A federal judge in Florida late yesterday said the mandate in the nation's new healthcare law that requires Americans to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. That mandate is a big part of how the law is paid for.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: The insurance mandate goes hand-in-hand with another provision of the health care law, that health insurers can't turn anyone away because of a pre-existing condition. Both provisions go into effect in 2014. Health economists say the mandate would put more healthy people in the insurance pool, to balance out sick people, who need more care.

Deborah Chollet is a health care economist at Mathematica Policy Research. She says the mandate would stabilize the insurance market.

Deborah Chollet: Because you don't have what we call hit-and-run enrollees, that is people enroll when they're sick and they dis-enroll when they've gotten the care they needed.

Duke University health economist Barak Richman says the mandate is also key to driving down health care costs, because people with insurance are much more likely to get preventive care.

Barak Richman: It's much more cost effective to prevent illness than to treat illness.

The last word on the mandate will not come from economists. Ultimately, the issue will be decided in the Supreme Court.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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