NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 17, 2007

When Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton unveils her health plan, it is expected to require all Americans to get health insurance.  It is a concept that has evolved quietly in recent years and, unlike most ideas for health reform, enjoys support across the political spectrum, says the Wall Street Journal.

The thrust is to get everyone into the health-insurance pool so that healthy people, who are cheap to cover, help balance out the sick, who are expensive. One of Sen. Clinton's top aides says that it is impossible to achieve universal coverage without this requirement, and polls suggest the public supports the idea:

  • Known as an "individual mandate," it has been proposed by two Republican governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.
  • It is being tried in Massachusetts and considered in at least six other states.
  • It is also an important feature of a health-care-overhaul bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Further, according to the Journal:

  • Many Republicans like its message of personal responsibility, noting that when the uninsured get emergency-room care and can't pay the bill, the costs are passed on indirectly to everyone else.
  • Democrats tend to support it, too, as long as there are reasonable subsidies.

Overall, the individual mandate tends to win support from centrists while drawing opposition from libertarian-minded voters, who object to such a sweeping government mandate, and some liberals, who would prefer that the government cover everyone through a single-payer system or that employers pick up more of the tab, says the Journal.

Source: Laura Meckler, "Clinton Health Plan Due," Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2007.

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