By Andrew Monger, Staff Editor
The Affordable Care Act includes an individual mandate that requires all U.S. citizens to either have health insurance or pay a penalty for choosing not to have insurance. This provision of the law is being challenged in courts and the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the mandate next year. Even without an individual mandate, however, there is evidence that the health care law could still have a significant impact on decreasing the number of uninsured individuals in the U.S. A study in the journal Health Affairs found that if the mandate is dropped from the law, 23 million people will nevertheless attain coverage who would otherwise be uninsured. This represents 7.8 million fewer people than would be covered were the mandate to be kept in place, a significantly lower amount than the 16 million people who would not be covered without the mandate as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (pdf). The study also found that health insurance premiums would increase by 12.6% if the mandate is removed, less than the CBO’s estimated increase of 15-20%.