Will the individual mandate’s penalty keep pace with sky-rocketing insurance premiums?

May 15th, 2013

The Washington Examiner reports on a House Energy and Commerce Committee report that suggests that health insurance costs will continue to increase.

The report found that individuals will face “premium increases of nearly 100 percent on average, with potential highs eclipsing 400 percent. Meanwhile, small businesses can expect average premium increases in the small group market of up to 50 percent, with potential highs over 100 percent.”

One company said that new participants in the individual market could see a premium increase of 413 percent when new requirements on age rating and required benefits are taken into account, said the report. “The average yearly cost for a new customer in the individual market grows from $1,896 to $3,708 — a $1,812 cost increase,” it added.

The individual mandate, when fully phased in, will be roughly $1,000 a year. With these rising premiums, it becomes more and more rational for young, healthy, people to choose not to buy insurance. Politically, there is no way Congress would ever take the necessary steps to increase the mandate. Constitutionally, if the penalty rises to be greater than the cost of insurance, under the Roberts savings construction, it becomes suspect. This is a point I address at some length in my book. I suspect this issue will be with us for some time.