Actually, the real reason is more evil. Insurers love it because it boosts the number of healthy people in the pool and gets government to subsidize poor people insurance without creating a real public option that could threaten the current bloated insurance establishment.
But the evidence from MA is that the mandate doesn't work. Because what is the penalty and who checks?
But what irritates me is the people who say "we make you buy insurance to operate a car," as if that is somehow a relevant argument.
We also make me get a license to drive a car. Does that mean we can require me to get a license to keep living? And if I don't want to pay for car insurance, I can opt not to drive a car. If I don't want to pay for health insurance, then what? I have to die?
The final indignity is that we would all pay less if we had single payer insurance funded by a health insurance tax. What we are doing is imposing a profoundly regressive tax on lower income individuals and small businesses that we transfer directly to private insurers for a service the government could easily provide -- as demonstrated by every other industrialized nation.