Alternative to Individual Mandate is Socialized Medicine
Every health wonk--including conservative ones, as conservative as wonks in states like Utah--knows the alternative to the individual mandate is socialized medicine. There are no other possibilities. Ultimately, if the public demands healthcare as a public good (as opposed to insurance against catastrophe), the public as a whole must pay into it.
This is why conservatives invented the idea of a mandate in the first place, as a response against those who would nationalize and socialize healthcare. It's a battle we are losing, badly--Medicare and Medicaid are, for the most part, socialized medicine, and together they comprise nearly half of all health spending. And remember those free ER visits? Those often come out of the public purse, too.
We may win this battle, and SCOTUS may get rid of the mandate. But mark my words: in 2016, the debate will not be between proponents of the status quo and proponents of requiring American citizens pay for their own healthcare. It will be whether private insurance should be allowed at all, in our new, completely socialized, coldly rationed healthcare system.
And besides, the regulations and proto-rationing in ObamaCare are what we should really care about. The contraceptive mandate proves that! Do we really want politicized federal regulators saying which health services should be prioritized, and which should not? If you read the law, the sheer level of federal intrusion in the regulatory sphere is astounding. The mandate is the least of the law's problems. Unfortunately, the public seems to dislike it much more than they dislike regulations in general.