The Principle of Mandated Health Insurance

October 20, 2011

This issue remains a very contentious issue within “Obamacare.” According to Poll Position , “77% of Republicans believe mandatory health insurance is wrong, 63% of Democrats support required health insurance, and independents oppose it by a 48%-40% margin.”

Let’s forget about the technical aspects of mandated insurance and focus on the principle of it. On principle alone, I’m not sure why the positions of Republicans and Democrats positions on this measure aren’t reversed. At the core of this issue is who should be financially responsible for one’s care: the individual or the state? In the real world, Republicans gravitate toward personal responsibility and Democrats tend to favor the social safety net. In Political Bizarro World, they hold the opposite positions.

In full disclosure, no one is likely to tag me with a liberal label any time soon. As a student of mine said on my Rate My Professors page, “He’s from Texas, need I say more.” That said, I fully support the principle behind mandatory insurance. I liken it to liability insurance on your car. If someone else causes a crash with me, either accidentally or because of poor choices they made, why should I be stuck with the bill? Shouldn’t the other person have to take personal responsibility? The parallels with mandatory health insurance are obvious. If someone gets sick, either accidentally or because they made poor health choices, why should the taxpayer be held financially responsible?

There are certainly important technical and economic issues of mandatory insurance that may sway one’s opinion. However, I find it hard to believe that the majority of the American people know enough about the details of the legislation that technical details are responsible for their opinions overall. This issue seems to show just how strong the influence of political leaders is…as they have convinced their constituents to take positions opposite their own principles.