Policymakers across the political spectrum have long talked about the need for individuals to be responsible for purchasing health insurance. The Center for American Progress has supported this approach since 2005. For one thing, broadly expanding coverage is a precondition to limiting health care spending overall. (Even a short break in health care coverage can result in an expensive visit to the emergency room for a condition that could have been prevented.)
But before making coverage mandatory, we need to reform the health insurance market, strengthen public health insurance programs, and finance premium subsidies for people who can’t afford coverage on their own. Only then would it be possible to carry out a coverage requirement.
Reform will require players in the system to compromise. Health insurers will have accede to new rules that govern how they do business, like who they cover and what they can charge.