Not So Strange Health-Care Bedfellows

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One thing can be said in behalf of the health-insurance overhaul currently shaping up in Washington: it has revealed the curious bedfellows that politics creates. Congress almost certainly will pass a bill that compels every American to have medical insurance. If his employer doesn’t offer it, he’ll have to buy it himself or be fined.

This justifiably offends everyone who believes in individual freedom. By what right do politicians order us to buy medical coverage? They say they have a good reason: if everyone were forced to buy health insurance, the premiums would be lower for sick people, who file more claims than healthy people do. I mean no disrespect to sick people, but that’s a lousy reason to force the healthy to buy insurance they don’t want. In a really free society, force would be used only to protect innocent life from aggression. Keeping insurance premiums down falls short of that standard.


It turns out that a lot of other people think so too. In several states there are moves to block the insurance mandate. For example, in Arizona voters will vote on a state constitutional amendment to prohibit forced participation in any health-care plan. And the Los Angeles Times reports that “a group of more than a dozen state attorneys general … are exploring whether the mandate is unconstitutional.”

The Times quotes Florida Atty. Gen. Bill McCollum: “It’s a tax on living.” The newspaper adds that McCollum “drew a distinction from the requirement that people buy auto insurance: Drivers make a choice to own a car.” Actually, car insurance is tied to the use of the roads, and even private road owners would have the right to admit only insured drivers to their property. Moreover, drivers are required only to have liability insurance; they are free to forgo coverage for their own cars.

So here’s the odd bedfellows angle: while big-government opponents (and Republican opportunists) are gearing up to fight the insurance mandate, guess who’s all gung-ho for it besides the Democrats: the insurance companies!

Savor that for a moment. For a full year President Obama and his congressional allies have bashed those companies as the devil incarnate: They won’t cover people who are already sick; they cancel policies after people get sick; they impose annual and lifetime benefit limits; they resist paying benefits; they charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people