Is it constitutional to have to buy health insurance?

Here’s a interesting commentary by Florida Medical Association President, Dr. James Dolan, regarding the constitutionality of the proposed Healthcare reform proposal that requires the mandatory purchase of health insurance. I have quoted the relevant sections, below.****

Interestingly, the one proposal that has united critics on the left and the right is the so-called “individual mandate,” which requires everyone to carry health insurance. The rationale for this is that adding healthier individuals to the pool of the insured lives increases the risk spread, making insurance cheaper for all. But because underwriters won’t be able to age-adjust premiums appropriately, and no exclusions for pre-existing conditions will be allowed, premiums will cost more for the healthy individuals.

Jim Dean, brother of Howard Dean, MD, and chairman of Democracy for America, said, “We’d like to see the individual mandate stripped. It was fair given the presence of a government entity (the “public option”) that could provide competition and control the cost. It ‘s not fair if people are required to buy insurance from the same insurance industry that caused this problem in the first place.”

Michael Cannon, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute said, “The federal government does not have the power (constitutional authority) to force you to purchase a private product.”

Our Florida State Attorney General, Bill McCollum and a dozen or so other state attorneys general agree. “It’s a tax on living,” McCollum said. It’s different than being required to buy auto insurance, because drivers are free to choose whether or to own a car, he argues.

Watch for immediate legal challenges to the bill that is eventually signed into law. While Congress can pass any law it wants, the U.S. Supreme Court can nullify it based on constitutional challenges.

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