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Economics

Individual Mandate Is Ryan Tax Credit by Other Name

March 29 (Bloomberg) -- Of all the arguments being waged over the Affordable Care Act -- or, as the Obama campaign now likes to refer to it, “Obamacare” -- the one dominating the Supreme Court this week is perhaps the most conceptually trivial.

The individual mandate requires consumers to purchase health insurance in order to eliminate the problem of free riders -- people who don’t purchase insurance until the point when they get sick or injured, or never purchase insurance and end up passing the costs of care they can’t afford onto the rest of us. Detractors argue that it unconstitutionally infringes on personal liberty by forcing Americans to purchase health insurance. But compare it to three ways of addressing the free-rider problem in health care that are clearly, indisputably, constitutional: