Vice President for Health Policy
As part of budget reconciliation legislation that may move in coming weeks, House Republican leaders are likely to include a repeal of health reform’s requirement, known as the individual mandate, that most individuals have insurance or pay a penalty. That would reverse much of the historic progress the nation has made — and will continue to make — in reducing the ranks of the uninsured.
The uninsured rate fell sharply by 2.9 percentage points and the number of uninsured Americans dropped by 8.8 million between 2013 and 2014, according to new Census Bureau data. These are by far the largest single-year reductions on record in data back to 1987, driven primarily by health reform’s major coverage expansions that first took effect last year. Moreover, other government and private surveys find further substantial reductions in the share and number of uninsured in 2015.
Repealing the individual mandate would undo much of that progress. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that repealing the individual mandate would:
These CBO estimates are consistent with its prior estimates and also with recently updated estimates from RAND, which projects that repealing the individual mandate would increase the number of uninsured by 12.3 million and raise individual market premiums in 2017. Earlier analyses from the Urban Institute and the Lewin Group produced similar results.