The "individual mandate"-the requirement that individuals either have health insurance coverage or pay a fine-is both the best known and the least popular component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That people know about the mandate-and may even worry about it-is not surprising, given both the heated political controversy and the constitutional challenge surrounding this provision of the law. What may be surprising, however, is that if the ACA were in effect today, 94 percent of the total population would not have to newly purchase insurance or pay a fine. While a small number of people would be affected by the individual responsibility requirement, the overall benefit to the population would be large, in terms of reducing premiums and increasing stability of insurance markets.
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