Given what some presidential candidates have suggested about the future of the Affordable Care Act, it’s useful to consider the rationale for the law’s requirement that all individuals not otherwise covered through their employer buy health insurance (the “individual mandate”):
“By requiring that individuals purchase health insurance, the mandate prevents cost-shifting by those who would otherwise go without it. In addition, the mandate forces into the insurance risk pool more healthy individuals, whose premiums on average will be higher than their health care expenses. This allows insurers to subsidize the costs of covering the unhealthy individuals the reforms require them to accept.”
Those words come not from the 2010 law or from President Barack Obama. They were written by Chief Justice John Roberts in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the 2012 Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the ACA.