Obamacare remains deeply unpopular among Americans. According to a recent New York Times / CBS News poll, two-thirds of Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn at least some part of the healthcare law.
Today, arguments opened at the Supreme Court regarding the Affordable Care Act. In six hours of hearings over three days (the longest in forty-five years), the Court will hear oral arguments on four separate issues with the Act. Ezra Klein does an excellent job of outlining the four issues and what each side is likely to argue. Most importantly, the Court will hear arguments on the least popular aspect of the bill, the individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase healthcare insurance, tomorrow.
In my opinion, this provision of the law has the highest probability of actually lowering costs. It does so by expanding the overall insurance risk pool. Without it, the insurance industry would have to contend with the classic economics problem of adverse selection, in which only the unhealthiest people sign up for healthcare coverage. Without the individual mandate, the law is dead on arrival.
The only wrinkle is that a law mandating that Americans purchase a product may stand on dubious constitutionality. In my view, I think pragmatism ought to prevail in this case. In other words, the problem of bringing down the spiraling costs of healthcare justifies the individual mandate.
Either way, the Court will decide the law’s constitutionality in the near future. It should be interesting to watch.