An Individual Mandate Doesn’t Matter

April 1, 2011

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...

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A prime example of the need for citizens to understand what’s in the health care reform bill is the controversy over the individual mandate.  A majority of those polled say they approve of many or all of the bill’s provisions –except for the mandate.

But I don’t think the mandate is critical to the success of PPACA. There are other ways to incentivize people to buy health insurance, and our experience running a large exchange is informative on this issue too.

Why do so many people buy Medicare supplemental insurance? Two key reasons: guaranteed issue and standardized plan designs. With guaranteed issue, they know they can’t be turned down, and standardized plans offered on an exchange make it easy to compare benefits and find plans that fit their needs.

If you add an annual enrollment period (AEP) to PPACA — which already includes guaranteed issue, standardized plans, and exchanges — you’ll have something that looks a lot like Medicare. People will enroll during the AEP because they won’t want to risk getting sick without coverage – no mandate necessary.

Informed citizens who understand what’s in PPACA can debate my argument and lobby their representatives for or against provisions of the bill – in short they can help shape the future of reform, and make sure it does what it was meant to do: provide health insurance for more citizens of the United States.

Visit Extend Health — the nation’s largest private Medicare exchange.

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