Tomorrow we supposedly learn what the Supreme Court will rule on the Affordable Health Care legislation and the individual mandate. Where does personal responsibility end when there are societal impacts? Nothing probably separates liberals from conservatives than this issue. It doesn't help when politicians flip flop on this issue when the politics of the day require it. Romney was for the individual mandate until a Democrat President was for it. Newt Gingrich could flip flop on the issue in the same way. Individual mandates were once the Republican answer to universal care.
The strangest part of this whole question comes
down to the Court's interpretation of the commerce clause! The delivery
of health care is a business that crosses state lines and that has been
enough in the past to give the feds the right to regulate it. As strange
as that seems the power to regulate interstate commerce has been the
basis of other progressive legislation such as workplace safety
legislation, minimum wage laws and even civil rights legislation.
This debate being decided on the strange basis of a commerce clause would be just an academic legal debate if it wouldn't mean that 30 million uninsured in this country and those with pre-existing conditions may not be able to get insurance and then lead them to personal bankruptcy.
This issue is also played out with motorcycle helmet laws. According to the Insurance Institute:
"in 1967, the federal government began requiring states to enact motorcycle helmet laws to
qualify for certain federal safety and highway construction funds. By
the end of 1969, 39 states had universal helmet laws.. By 1975, all but
three states mandated helmets for all motorcyclists....In the fall of 1995, Congress lifted federal sanctions against states
without helmet use laws, paving the way for state legislatures to repeal
helmet laws. Now only 19 states and the District of Columbia have
helmet laws covering all riders, and 28 states have laws covering some
riders, usually people younger than 18. Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire
do not have any helmet requirements."
So what has been the impact of the lack of the helmet laws? Motorcycle deaths have more than doubled since the 1990's. While it is true that motorcycle ridership has increased in that time we have seen a dramatic decline in automobile deaths and injuries during that time because of safety measures enacted over this same time. Just like the individual mandate for health care the cost of treating people injured in motorcycle accidents there is a societal health care cost either to the government or insurance companies.