The individual mandate to purchase health insurance is one of the most contentious provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  Many believe it is necessary to reduce the number of uninsured and the corresponding amount of uncompensated care.  Starting in 2014, it will be paired with premium tax credits to help middle and low-income families afford insurance.  It is also seen as an integral part of the requirement that insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions; otherwise people might wait until they became ill to purchase insurance, weakening the insurance risk pool.
However, many opponents feel it is unfair to force people to purchase insurance when a competitive and not-for-profit public option does not exist.  Still others believe the mandate is simply unconstitutional and that steps can be taken to reduce adverse selection in insurance risk pools.
Post a comment below and tell us what you think about the impact of the individual mandate on your patients, your practice, or on you.
For opinions on both sides of the issue, check out:
The Urban Institute: Why the Individual Mandate Matters
Ezra Klein, A World With an Individual Mandate
Merrill Mathews, Why Obama Should Drop the Insurance Mandate
The Heritage Foundation, Obamacare and the Individual Mandate: Violating Personal Liberty and Federalism