Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Alter said that if the Supreme Court rules the health care individual mandate unconstitutional, it could pull "a thread on the whole blanket of one seventh of the American economy."
"If you're an insurance company and there's no mandate," Alter told The Ed Show host Ed Schultz, "you can't stay in business."
The individual mandate is the portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires all Americans to seek health care coverage or face a penalty. Alter argued that striking down the mandate would make it impossible for health care companies to survive the other requirements imposed on them by health care reform, such as a ban on charging higher premiums for consumers with pre-existing conditions.
MIT economist Jonathan Gruber has made similarly dire predictions. In a February 2011 paper for the Center for American Progress, he wrote that "no alternative to the individual mandate can cover more than two-thirds as many uninsured as the Affordable Care Act does." Furthermore, "any alternative imposes much higher costs on those buying insurance in the new health insurance exchanges as the healthiest opt out and the less healthy face increased premiums."