Switzerland utilizes private health insurance companies and requires all of its residents to purchase health insurance through an individual mandate. It reformed its system several decades ago to a fashion similar to what is included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama. According to the World Health Organization, quality of care in Switzerland is high, everyone has access to care, and Switzerland spends only 11 percent of its GDP on health care.
The so-called individual mandate in Mr. Obama’s health-care law is a mechanism used to require all uninsured residents, including the young and the healthy, to buy health insurance. One of the key concepts of insurance is to spread risk among as many people as possible by getting them all into the same “risk pool” – the healthy and the sick, the young and the old, and, more important, those with pre-existing conditions.
Contrary to some of the current political rhetoric, the concept of an individual mandate was proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation, and even endorsed in earlier times by Republican presidential candidates. If the Supreme Court rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, the entire health-care reform program will be in jeopardy, because this idea of spreading risk and its associated costs is the underlying foundation (and intent) of the law.