(photo: TimmyGUNZ / flickr)

Depending on how the Supreme Court rules this month regarding the individual mandate, some of the law’s supporters many soon start looking for a replacement which can serve a similar role in getting more people to buy insurance. According to a new Bloomberg Government Study, an auto-enrollment system could function as a decent replacement.

The study finds that even if auto-enrollment performs at a lower level of its effectiveness in retirement savings, it could offset much or all of the non- group enrollment loss of six million people expected if the mandate is overturned. It also could largely restore the mix of young and old, healthy and unhealthy people that the mandate was intended to ensure and that’s needed to make an insurance system work well. A moderately strong version of the policy could restore all of the $20 billion in annual premium revenue U.S. insurers would lose in the non-group market with the mandate’s failure.

By far my preferred replacement to the individual mandate would be to have a basic public insurance plan everyone without private insurance is automatically made part of, but there are many provisions or combinations of provision that could serve a similar role that the individual mandate is supposed to play.

What, if anything, is done to replace the individual mandate if the Court strikes down only the mandate, or only the mandate plus a few related provisions, will likely be the next big fight in health care reform.