Mandated health insurance already facing legal challenges

By Megg Mueller on January 20th, 2011

Mandated health insurance already facing legal challenges

In 2014, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most Americans will be required to purchase health insurance. While this measure is a few years away from being enacted, its provisions have already stirred up debate and led to proposals for counter-legislation across the country.

Colorado joins the fight

Colorado has become the most recent state to get enough voter signatures to place an initiative on the November 2010 ballot that will allow residents to opt out of many of the federal government's proposed reforms, according to the Wall Street Journal. Florida had proposed a similar initiative on its upcoming ballot. A state judge removed it, but that decision is being appealed.

These attempts to put the decision about health care insurance back into the hands of the people are often part of the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act which was created by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit group that aims to get the legislation passed in each state. The group claims that so far, 38 states have filed or pre-filed such legislation.

Mandatory insurance put to the test in Mass.

One of the most controversial aspects of health care reform has undoubtedly been the requirement for mandatory health insurance coverage. In 2006, Massachusetts enacted health care reform which contains provisions similar to the federal plan. Fines for not having insurance were first charged in 2009, and so far this year, 2,500 people have appealed the fines they incurred. One man took his fight to the next level: according to the Boston Herald, he's now suing the state-run health insurance program. The man contends that he can't afford the cheapest plan available for him and his wife at $800 a month, nor can he afford the $2,000 fine now being levied due to not having bought the plan.

The battle has only just begun

The argument on whether health care reform will benefit those without insurance or penalize those who cannot afford it is sure to continue for the next few years. And if the current discussion is any indication, it's a battle that will have no easy outcome.

Megg Mueller
Megg Mueller is a journalist with almost two decades of experience. She has worked as a reporter and editor for the Reno Gazette-Journal and as an editor of health care and education manuals for Aspen Publishers, a subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer. She wrote a weekly column on the hotel industry during her tenure as assistant travel editor for USA TODAY.com. Mueller is the editor of a tourism-based website and also serves as a reporter for a weekly business newspaper.

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