The individual mandate is far from the most popular aspect of the Affordable Care Act but, as the Senate considered a so-called "skinny" repeal of the health care bill, insurers and other experts are clamoring to inform members of Congress that it is vital to the health insurance marketplace. Without the mandate, premiums would go up considerably.
CNN Money calls the mandate important "to the stability of the individual insurance market" and warns that "its removal could cause serious harm." The CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans cautioned in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday that, should the mandate go, "premiums will rise rapidly, few or no affordable coverage options will be available and more people will be uninsured."
The letter also says that the AHIP would "oppose an approach that eliminates the individual requirement, does not offer alternative continuous coverage provisions, and does not include measures to immediately stabilize the individual market."
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concurs, predicting that a "skinny" repeal would boost the number of uninsured Americans by 16 million and raise premiums by 20 percent as soon as next year and then 10 percent by 2019.
Some Republicans agree that repealing the individual mandate would leave the marketplace in shambles. "I cannot tolerate our skinny bill being the final answer on health care," said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. "No way. If you passed it as a standalone proposition it would destroy the insurance markets and we would own the failure of Obamacare."
Kaiser Health News points out that three individual states have tried versions of a "skinny" repeal. The results were bleak: "Premiums rose and insurers fled, leaving consumers who buy their own coverage, because they don't get it through their jobs, with fewer choices and higher prices."
The CBO also warned that, under the original Senate Obamacare replacement plan, average deductibles could reach $13,000 or more a year within ten years.
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook