Mandatory Health Insurance - Constitutional?

With some of the hoopla about health insurance for everyone being co-opted by the Democratic presidential candidates, and looking to Massachusetts to see how their mandatory health insurance program is working, it appears that no one has asked the one question that might change he entire perception about the existing and proposed mandatory health insurance programs.

The question?

Are mandatory health insurance requirements imposed by government constitutional?

I have to admit the thought never even crossed my mind. I never thought to ask. But someone else has.

Are health insurance mandates constitutional? They certainly are unprecedented. The federal government does not ordinarily require Americans to purchase particular goods or services from private parties.

The closest we come is when government imposes a condition on the grant of a discretionary benefit or permit. For instance, in most states, you must have auto insurance to drive a car, or you are required to install fire sprinklers when building a new house. But in such cases, the "mandate" is discretionary -- you don't have to drive a car or build a house. Nor do you have a constitutional right to do so.

But Americans do have a constitutional right to live in the United States. Accordingly, neither federal nor state governments can require you to purchase health insurance as a "condition" for residency. The Supreme Court has drawn a distinction between requirements that are flat-out imposed by government and those imposed as a condition for discretionary benefits.

When you think about, the question is obvious. How can the government force us to buy a product or service from a private party, even though we don't want to? That also implies other questions, such as what kind of sanctions would they impose if we refuse to do so? What about the man or woman who happens to have the means to pay for all of their medical expenses out of pocket? Will they be forced to pay for insurance they neither want or need?

I can see these questions never bothered either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. After all, they're doing it for our own good. It's obvious to them we aren't capable of making that decision for ourselves. Therefore, they need to do it for us whether we want them to or not. Isn't that the way it's always been?

The last time they tried something this big we ended up with the 18th Amendment. They decided alcohol was a Bad Thing™, so they banned it. We all know how well that turned out.

Now they want to impose something almost as bad, and they want us to pay for it directly rather than hiding the cost through more taxes. Sound familiar?

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