Dec 20, 2017 - Health

Repealing the individual mandate won't affect employer coverage

Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

There's been a lot of focus on how repealing the individual mandate affects the individual market (it raises premiums and decreases competition). But, as my colleague Caitlin Owens notes, repealing the mandate is also likely to decrease the number of people with employer-based coverage, too.

The big difference: While decreasing coverage on the individual market is likely to destabilize the market itself, the effect on the employer market is probably negligible.

The details, per Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt:

  • A lot of people decide to take up employer coverage because it's generally a pretty good deal for them. But the mandate does provide an extra incentive for them to do so.
  • The Congressional Budget Office predicts that with the mandate repealed, 3 million fewer people will have employer coverage. But that's against the more than 150 million people who have employer coverage.
  • "That would be a drop in the bucket … but a meaningful change in the number of people uninsured," Levitt says.

Sound smart: While the employer market will be absolutely fine, some of those 3 million newly uninsured people are sure to get sick — raising the question of who's on the hook for their health care bills, if they can't afford to pay.

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