Will Americans Be Required to Buy Health Insurance?

by Lesley Politi on April 9, 2009

 you say health insurance should be available to everyone, but you don’t require everyone to buy insurance, what is the incentive for healthy people to get covered? Why shouldn’t they just go without, and buy insurance only if they get sick or injured?

That’s the argument behind including a health-insurance mandate as part of any big health-reform plan aiming to bring health coverage to more people. During last year’s campaign, President Obama opposed a broad insurance mandate, though he backed requiring health insurance for children.

But some powerful Democrats have supported a mandate, including Hillary Clinton, Max Baucus (a key health-reform power broker in the Senate) and Tom Daschle (OK, maybe he’s not so powerful anymore).

The health insurance industry also backs a mandate. This is no surprise — the Health Blog would certainly back a mandate requiring all Americans to read health-related blogs. But we were reminded of the industry’s position again this morning, with the report that two health insurance trade groups wrote a letter to the Senate, offering to stop charging sick people more for coverage, provided that everyone is required to buy insurance.

The offer comes amid a debate in Congress over whether to create a government-backed plan to compete against private insurers — an option opposed both by industry and by congressional Republicans.

Source: blogs.wsj.com

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