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California Fact Sheet

What Your Car Can Teach You About Health Reform

An Individual Requirement to Purchase Health Care Can Be Successfully Implemented
July 9, 2007 |

Analysts largely agree that if you want everyone to have health insurance, you’re going to have to require it. “Individual mandates” to purchase health insurance would also help insurance markets work better than they do now, since insurers would then find it far easier to attract a balance of high and low risks if all had to buy something. Therefore they would need to do far less medical underwriting (risk evaluation) and targeted marketing, and that would lower the cost of insurance to us all. And of course, if all patients had good insurance, then hospitals and doctors would have to worry less about charging Peter to pay for uninsured Paul and thus be able to devote more time to high quality patient care.

But this all works only if the mandate actually works, that is, if the purchase requirement is indeed enforceable in the real world. Critics of such a requirement have often argued that such a requirement will prove relatively unsuccessful, just like the current requirement for motorists to purchase auto insurance.

Though California has seen high rates of uninsured motorists despite three decades of legislation mandating that drivers buy auto insurance, health care reformers can learn valuable lessons from new changes underway at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The successful efforts at California DMV and in other states demonstrate that there are models for how an individual requirement to purchase health care can be successfully implemented.

For the full fact sheet, please see the attached PDF document below.