Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has announced a new plan to improve the individual mandate. Instead of being a tax or fine paid directly to the government, the money will be taken from the individual and put into a trust. This individual trust fund could be used to purchase health insurance in the future.
Americans could keep up to three years’ worth of penalties to put towards premium payments; after three years, part of the payments would begin to be forfeited.
This change does not address several issues with the individual mandate. Mainly, should there be an individual mandate without sufficient subsidies to help people afford insurance? Also is it ethical to force people to pay a very large amount to private corporations?
Schumer's proposal does address the political problem of the individual mandate being a tax on families making below $250,000 a year. This is an improvement on how the individual mandate has been structured. It is still a fine because people will eventually “forfeit” the money to the government after three years, if they still don't buy health insurance. It does, though, make it easier for a person to avoid paying the fine by eventually buying insurance.
Unfortunately, it is an end run around the real problem with current health care reform legislation. If every American were truly guaranteed affordable quality health insurance, this would be less of an issue. Americans would be less concerned that people are being mandated to buy health insurance if they know it would really be affordable for everyone.