Does the Individual Mandate Coerce?
18 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2012 Last revised: 16 Dec 2013
Date Written: April 23, 2012
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes an individual mandate which penalizes individuals who do not purchase health insurance. Critics of the individual mandate, including a majority of justices on the Supreme Court, contend that Congress cannot use its Commerce Clause power to coerce individuals to buy a product. Supporters concede that the mandate coerces but argue that it is otherwise permissible under the Commerce Clause. This Article questions whether the individual mandate coerces. It uses a simple economic model to show that, under certain conditions, the individual mandate induces insurers to sell health insurance at a price each individual would voluntarily pay. Accordingly, the Article concludes that the premise underlying the debate over the constitutionality of the individual mandate under the Commerce Clause should not be taken for granted.
Keywords: individual mandate, patient protection and affordable care act, commerce clause, necessary and proper clause, health care, insurance
JEL Classification: I11, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation