IN a July 5th article, Business Week calmly explained in a few brief sentences why mandates make sense. It’s a useful sedative for hysterical conservatives in this propaganda-filled election year.
Insurance mandates, far from being unique to Obamacare, are all around us. States require drivers to carry liability insurance. Your state government also provides you with–and charges you for–insurance against losing your job. The federal government mandates flood insurance for anyone living in a flood plain who has a federally insured mortgage. Social Security is mandatory insurance against a penniless old age, and the premiums are deducted from your paycheck, whether you like it or not…
The logic of getting everyone to jump into the risk pool is powerful: Left to their own devices, many people will choose to go uncovered against fire, flood, car crashes, and cancer. Then, if something bad happens, they throw themselves on the mercy of society. The cruel solution would be to let them live (or die) on the streets. To our societal credit, we are unwilling to do this. A coverage mandate at least ensures that people who create the risks will bear the costs, on average, over time.
…The point of a mandate isn’t only to protect people from the consequences of going unprotected; it’s also to prevent the rest of us from having to pick up the tab. That’s why the argument made by some conservatives–including Chief Justice John Roberts–that if the government can force us to buy health insurance it can force us to buy broccoli, doesn’t hold up. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg countered, unlike broccoli, refusing to buy health insurance comes “at the expense of another consumer forced to pay an inflated price.”