Today, a federal district court judge ruled against the individual responsibility provision of health care reform. While 14 other federal judges have rejected challenges to the health reform law, Judge Henry Hudson became the first and only judge to find that the rule that everyone must buy insurance or pay a tax is unconstitutional. However, there was some good news that came out of this ruling as well. The judge found the law to be “severable,” meaning that the rest of the law can stand even if this portion is found unconstitutional. This portion of the ruling was a big win for proponents of the law.
Judge Hudson’s ruling on the individual responsibility provision is misguided, and his ruling would definitely be bad for young people. The provision is incredibly important to making insurance coverage affordable for young people – and cost is the reason why so few young adults have insurance.
Here’s why: by including provisions such as the ban on preexisting conditions, the sickest people would seek coverage first. Moreover, many uninsured individuals might wait until they are sick to buy insurance or seek care, a cost that ultimately the insured population must bear – again making premiums unaffordable.
In fact, this could increase premiums by up to 27%, only making insurance even less affordable for young Americans. Even with the tax credits available, not enough of the premium would be covered to help the low-income young people who are uninsured. Without the individual responsibility provision, young adults are more likely to be priced out of the new exchanges than older, wealthier, age groups.
So yes, Judge Hudson, we need the tax to make the tax credits affordable, and to ensure everyone pays their own way in our health care market. And we’re confident that this ruling will ultimately be overturned. In the meantime, young adults need to do their part and make sure that the politically-motivated governors and attorneys general bringing these cases to the courts are aware that they are advocating for truly bad outcomes for our generation.