This brief describes alternative forms of subsidized reinsurance and the mechanisms by which they spread risk and reduce premiums. For a given amount of funding, a particular program’s efficacy will depend on how it affects insurers’ risk and the risk margins built into premiums, incentives for selecting or avoiding risks, incentives for coordinating and managing care, and the costs and complexity of administration. These effects warrant careful consideration by policymakers as they consider measures to achieve stability in the individual market in the long term.
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While the Affordable Care Act has achieved a second victory before the Supreme Court and produced significant coverage gains, it might also have produced a less positive outcome: in an NBER working paper, Penn LDI colleagues Mark Pauly, Adam Leive and Scott Harrington found that a large portion of non-poor (measured by income above 138% of the poverty level) who gained coverage now have a higher financial burden and lower welfare (well-being) than when they were uninsured. The authors call this extra burden a “price of responsibility” for complying with the individual mandate to purchase coverage.