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Inquiry. 2006-2007 Winter;43(4):333-44.

Money and mandates: relative effects of key policy levers in expanding health insurance coverage to all Americans.

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Department of Health Policy, School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University Washington, DC 20006, USA.


This study examines the relative effects of three policy levers on health coverage and costs in plans aimed at covering all Americans. Specifically, using microsimulation analysis and hypothetical proposals, it assesses how the generosity of financial assistance, an employer mandate, and an individual mandate affect the level of uninsurance, distribution of coverage, and federal costs, holding delivery system and benefits constant. The results suggest that only an individual mandate would cover all the uninsured; neither an employer mandate nor generous subsidies alone would be sufficient. The distribution of coverage would be least disrupted by an employer mandate, while 7.3% of people could lose employer coverage with generous subsidies and a voluntary purchasing pool. Federal costs would be highest under a combined individual and employer mandate since there would be costs to minimize disruption. Although less generous subsidies coupled with an individual mandate could yield universal coverage at a low federal cost, doing so would require large, new payments by individuals. Other key trade-offs are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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