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Don't call it a mandate—it's a tax

SCOTUSBlog, June 29, 2012

The reality, of course, is that the health insurance industry was never guaranteed a vastly larger pool of premium-payers. The "minimum coverage" provision (that's the technical name Congress gave what most people have called a mandate) was never to be enforced on its own—that is, the Affordable Care Act has never told people to buy insurance or you go to jail. It was always going to be enforced only by requiring an individual who refused to get health insurance to pay a tax. One might say, then, that what happened on Thursday was that the Court brought into full public view—perhaps for the first time—the fact that the nation’s healthcare market is going to have as customers only those who opt to buy insurance rather than pay a tax.