Premiums without individual mandate exaggerated

If the Supreme Court rules the health reform's individual mandate to be unconstitutional, the number of people gaining health insurance coverage would decrease, but the cost of policies wouldn't significantly increase, according to a RAND study released Thursday.

RAND investigators found that eliminating the individual mandate would result in a 2.4 percent increase in the cost of insurance. It also would mean 12 million fewer people would have health insurance in 2016, reported HealthDay News.

"Our analysis suggests eliminating the individual mandate would sharply decrease coverage, but it would not send premiums into a 'death spiral' that would make health insurance unaffordable to those who do not qualify for government subsidies," said Christine Eibner, RAND economist and study lead author.

Based on the study, implementing the reform law with the mandate would mean 91 percent of Americans will have insurance, compared to 81 percent if the reform law doesn't go into effect, the National Journal reported.

The study also determined that federal government spending on insurance enrollees would increase dramatically without the individual mandate. "New spending amounts to approximately $99 billion with the mandate and $109 billion with the [reform law] but without the individual mandate," the researchers wrote. Without the mandate, there's no money coming in from penalties for not having health insurance, MedPage Today reported.

To learn more:
- read the RAND study
- see the HealthDay News article
- check out the National Journal article
- read the MedPage Today article