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Actuaries Warn: Delaying Health Reform’s Individual Mandate Would Raise Premiums and Add to Ranks of Uninsured

We’ve warned of the dangers of a one-year delay in health reform’s individual mandate — on which the House may vote yet again this month — and the American Academy of Actuaries now concurs.

Health reform’s individual mandate will require most Americans to obtain health coverage or pay a penalty starting in 2014, and some House Republicans continue to push for a one-year delay.  As we’ve written, delaying the mandate would cause 11 million more Americans to remain uninsured in 2014 and result in higher premiums in the individual market for others.  It also would likely further disrupt the new health insurance marketplaces in the middle of the open enrollment period.

In a recent letter to Congress, the actuaries warn policymakers of many of the same adverse consequences of delaying the individual mandate (or eliminating the limited open enrollment period).

They state:

By encouraging the young and the healthy, as well as the old and the sick, to obtain insurance coverage, these provisions will help ensure that insurance markets are viable and premiums are stable.  Without the individual mandate and limited open enrollment period, premiums would likely be higher and more individuals would be uninsured than otherwise would occur without these provisions.