Obamacare's individual mandate is not the most popular aspect of the Affordable Care Act. But as Congress moves toward repealing the mandate as part of tax reform, voters, legislators and industry experts have flocked to its defense, pointing out that doing away with it would cause already high premiums for individual health plans to rise by 10 percent.
As a result, "a coalition of physician, hospital and health insurance industry associations called on Congress [earlier this fall] to keep the individual mandate," reports CNN.
They warned repeal would lead to "a significant increase in premiums" for those seeking to buy insurance on Obamacare marketplaces, which offer coverage to those who don't have insurance through an employer or elsewhere.
That increase would add about $1,000 to the annual cost of coverage for an individual health plan for the average unsubsidized family shopping for coverage via government exchanges. (The Kaiser Family Foundation breaks down which lower- and moderate-income families qualify for subsidies here.) That family would go from paying about $10,000 a year on premiums alone, which is what it spent in 2016, to about $11,000. The average unsubsidized individual, meanwhile, would go from paying about $3,800 a year on premiums to about $4,180.
And the Center for American Progress, which crunched the numbers before the House and the Senate reconciled their bills, warned that the forecast could be even more dire: "A typical middle-class family buying individual market insurance would see premiums increase nearly $2,000."
Increased costs would also threaten the health insurance of about 13 million Americans, according to estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.