This week, the House and Senate passed a sweeping overhaul of the tax system that included a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) individual mandate.
The individual mandate is a policy aimed at encouraging Americans to purchase health insurance by levying a financial penalty on those who fail to obtain coverage.
The President will sign the bill in the coming days and the repeal of the mandate will take effect starting January 1, 2019.
Why is this important?
The health and stability of the health insurance market relies in part on having a robust number of healthy people participate to help offset the patients with higher costs such as those with cancer.
Unfortunately, young, healthy people are often less inclined to purchase health insurance because they don’t feel they need it.
The individual mandate helps to nudge them in the right direction, growing participation and the insurance pool, while keeping costs down for those who rely on coverage.
What is the impact?
While it’s difficult to know for certain the impact of repealing the individual mandate, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that it could cause as many as 13 million people to lose insurance coverage over the next 10 years, and premiums are likely to increase.
It is likely that those on the individual market who do not qualify for subsidies would see the greatest impact.
It’s not all bad news
It is important to remember the individual market is just one segment of the health insurance landscape.
The vast majority of Americans obtain health insurance through their employer or through public programs such as Medicare, and therefore are not directly impacted by the individual mandate.
Also, the repeal of the individual mandate does not change the essential health benefits, the prohibition on denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, the policies on annual and lifetime limits, or the extension of coverage to adult children up to age 26.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be gathering with our partners in the advocacy community to determine next steps.
We have a year before the repeal takes effect and we are going to make the most of it!
And the work is already starting.
Some states are now discussing implementing their own individual mandate policies. Massachusetts, for example, already has a similar policy in place and states such as Maryland and California are considering it.
So stay tuned for more from our advocacy team keep an eye out for updates!
We’ll keep you posted with any new information on the impact of the repeal, new state policies, and anything YOU can do to make sure you and your family mitigate any negative effects on your coverage. Your story is important and you’re encouraged to share your story with us, or leave a comment below.