Court: Medical autonomy not violated by ACA individual mandate

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By Jerry Geisel, Crain News Service

SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 11, 2014) — A key healthcare reform law provision that requires individuals to purchase coverage or pay a financial penalty does not violate their constitutional right to make their own medical decisions, a federal appeals court panel ruled.

The suit, filed by an uninsured businessman in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, charged that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate interfered with his right to medical autonomy by forcing him to apply financial resources to pay healthcare premiums or forcing him to save his income to pay a healthcare reform penalty if he did not purchase coverage.

But Justice Susan Graber, who wrote the unanimous decision for the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, said Aug. 7 that even under the individual mandate, the plaintiff “remains free to obtain medical insurance of his own choosing — or to obtain no insurance, but at a financial cost — and to use or not to use any such insurance in selecting future doctor-patient relationships.”

The ruling upholds the lower court decision.

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This report appeared on businessinsurance.com, the website of Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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