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Think Out Loud

Rx: Individual Mandates

Pete Springer/OPB

Proposals in Congress to overhaul the way Americans get health care are — as political observers like to say — moving targets. But one element that all the Democratic versions have in common is that they contain a mandate that individuals buy health insurance. President Obama has likened that to the requirement that drivers buy car insurance. But not everyone is required to drive a car.

And mandates are far from being universally embraced. In Massachusetts, where health insurance mandates have been in place for more than three years, the results appear to be mixed, depending on whom you ask.

As Congress gets closer to debating specific bills on the House and Senate floors, how do you feel about being told you must have health insurance — or else? If you don’t have insurance right now, how would the threat of a tax penalty affect your decision to purchase insurance? If you’re a health insurer, what do you think mandates would mean for cost and care?


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