Cost and Coverage: The Impact of Implementing Various State Health Care Reform Proposals Nationally. Individual Mandate

06/01/2008

Under an individual mandate to purchase health insurance, individuals would be required by law to obtain health insurance coverage.  A mandate of this kind would be precedent setting (Tanner, 2006).  As noted by CBO in 1994, “the government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States” (Hartman & van de Water, 1994).  Thus far, only one state, Massachusetts, has legislated an individual mandate for health insurance coverage.  As one component of their comprehensive health care reform program, Massachusetts has implemented an individual mandate that requires all residents in the state to have health insurance or pay a financial penalty.  Tax filings are used to verify coverage, and exemptions are made when the cost of coverage does not meet the affordability standards defined by the state.

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