Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Healthcare Bill And The Purchase Requirement

I had originally tossed about in my mind the concept that, as part of the newly-passed healthcare bill, the requirement that (almost) all Americans must purchase health insurance or have to pay a penalty seemed unconstitutional... a concept that seems to be championed by a dozen or so State Attorneys General.

But, then I gave some thought to the matter. I thought: What else does the government require us to buy? Well, we certainly can't chose to not have Medicare taken out of our paychecks. That's health insurance that we are required to buy. We can't opt out of paying unemployment insurance either. That's also insurance we are required to buy. Of course, one could say that the government is forcing us to buy commercial — instead of government — health insurance with this new healthcare bill, which is completely different. That's a fair enough assessment, until you think about your automobile insurance. That's yet a third type of insurance the government requires you to buy.

So: Is the government requirement that you buy health insurance or pay a fine unconstitutional? Very doubtful. Not when all of those other examples can be shown.

By the way, I did get an interesting thought exercise via an e-mail from my friend Mike. He posited that, since the cost of the fine for not having health insurance is less than the cost of insurance, PLUS you can't now be turned down for pre-existing conditions, what's to stop me (or you) from just paying the fine and paying the fine until the big accident or emergency or dire diagnosis, and then signing up for the insurance the same day? I doubt the hospital would argue, since they want to get paid... and the insurance companies apparently can't turn you down anymore. And "preexisting" certainly could mean "existing as of 5 minutes ago."

Well, I'm guessing that is a question that has already been answered somewhere. I'll have to find it out.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the 2 examples you gave, I do have a choice. To avoid having those 2 deductions, it is simply a matter of choice not to work and get paid a wage that allows those deductions. Since those 2 "mandatory " payments are deducted from a paycheck, then I have a choice. It is NOT a choice when I am told to buy health insurance when I either don't want it it or I don't need it.
As I have said before, why stop with healthcare insurance, let's make life insurance mandatory. This mandatory provision will be struck down as unconstitutional, as some people simply do not need health insurance, as they can self-insure themselves. Just as auto insurance in many states, as long as you can prove that you have enough assets to cover any expenses in case of an accident, then auto insurance is not mandatory.

Jungle Jil said...

Anon,

What kind of idiotic reasoning is that? In order to avoid paying Social Security (government health insurance), all you have to do is choose to not work?

Well, in order to avoid wearing shoes, I can just choose to chop off my feet, and it would be almost as sensible as your idea.

Anonymous said...

Idiotic?

I live VERY well off my investments.
I am fully retired and have NOT worked since 2001. No deductions what-so-ever is taken from my checks I get from my investments.

You are the one making idiotic statements that the government makes payments to your examples are mandatory. Nothing can be farther from the truth. I have a choice NOT to pay those items if I do not work. What is idiotic about that?

Your other example of auto insurance is even more idiotic.
I can drive all I want on my property without a license or insurance. I have a choice NOT to drive on the public roadways, and I will NOT have to buy auto insurance.

THAT IS A CHOICE.

Now again tell me how I have a choice NOT to be forced into buying this MANDATORY health care insurance. There is NO way possible and paying the fine is still punishing me for NOT wishing to be part of this nonsense.

Jungle Jil said...

Anon,

Okay, "idiotic" wasn't a good word to use, since your example of living off investments is a theoretical way of avoiding paying Social Security, but (a) it doesn't apply to 99.9% of people, (b) it didn't apply to you when you were working to get the money for those investments, and (c) it doesn't change the original point that Social Security is government mandated, separate tax amounting to a required-to-purchase healthcare that already exists, and thus is Constitutional, and thus so is the newly-government-mandated, required-to-purchase healthcare.

Talking about driving all over your property is just another iteration of your "not working to avoid paying Social Security," and that is -- unless your property borders on every store, office, mall, and friend's house that you could ever hope to drive to -- just silly.

But, in fact, in your rather whimsical desire to find ways to show how not working, or always driving on the grass shows how one doesn't necessarily have to pay for any government-mandated insurance (thereby making it somehow unconstitutional... a connection you have not yet made), you have failed to point out the one most obvious example of being able to accomplish everything you claim to be supporting...

... by pointing directly at me.

I won't be paying social security if I don't want to. I won't be paying unemployment insurance if I don't want to. I won't be paying for auto insurance if I don't want to. And, most certainly, I won't be paying for the new health insurance if I don't want to.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what you allude to at the end of your post.

"... by pointing directly at me."

Many people use public transportation here in the USA, they are not forced to pay auto insurance, and as I said before, many states have a provision to post a bond to satisfy the insurance requirement. There is a choice.

I couldn't care less about my working years, and paying the various mandatory government "taxes". I still had a choice.

Right now and in my situation, I have NO choice. Please show me in the Constitution the clause that gives the Federal government authority to compel me to buy health insurance.

You seem intent to be right in your reasoning, and will revert to calling other people's thoughts idiotic. I have pointed out that ALL your examples have a way out, or a CHOICE, not to pay those fees, no matter how idiotic you think they are, they still are a CHOICE.

This health insurance has NO CHOICE.

It was a rushed law that had no real thought put into it, and if it is SO wonderful, why did NOT one single Republican vote for it? Why are 13 states at the moment challenging it? Why are people making threats to the various congress-people over it?

I thought Obama was going to unite America. Is this what he had in mind?

The only gripe I have with the law in a way that effects me is that I am FORCED into buying insurance that I do not need or want. It is still America, and just because it passed as law does not mean it is right, just or even constitutional. The courts are tasked with determining that and not Congress or the President. Basic Civics 101.

Jungle Jil said...

Point one: 48 states in America require you to have auto insurance, only two (New Hampshire and Wisconsin) do not. Therefore, 48 different times, in 48 different states, a government has deemed it constitutional to make auto insurance a requirement.

Point two: You can't prove a law is unconstitutional by showing that there is a way of avoiding it. You can't say, "If I don't work, then I don't pay taxes, and therefore it proves the income tax is unconstitutional." You're arguing from a point of nihilism. It's not a valid argument... other than to fuel your own indignation.

Read Art. I, Sec. 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and you'll see that everything in the bill is within Congress' purview to legislate. This fine that everybody thinks is unconstitutional is actually enacted as a new tax. The default status of the tax is "on" until you can show you have health insurance, at which point you get a tax rebate. That's constitutional. And — as I say so often — the original point of this blog post.

Feel free to rant about it some more here, if it makes you happy. I didn't like the "penalty" tax in concept, and I still don't like it in practice... and I don't even have to pay it. However, as I said, that was not the original point of this post. The point is to determine whether or not the mandated penalty is constitutional or not. I believe it is.

As for why all the Republicans voted against it, if you haven't figured out yet that Republicans just vote against everything — and would vote to cancel Mother's Day if the Democrats tried to pass a bill supporting it — then you haven't been reading enough news lately.

Anonymous said...

You said: "Point one: 48 states in America require you to have auto insurance, only two (New Hampshire and Wisconsin) do not. Therefore, 48 different times, in 48 different states, a government has deemed it constitutional to make auto insurance a requirement."

WRONG!!!!

Keep Googling for more facts.

Can't you seem to grasp the concept that you ONLY need auto insurance if you drive on public roadways. Auto insurance is NOT mandatory if I post a bond or can prove that I can cover any expenses if I cause an accident. Also driving is a privilege granted to you by the States, and with that privilege comes a few responsibilities. Comparing auto insurance to mandatory health insurance is not even close. Trying to explain things to someone that is so stubborn to be right is quite exhausting.

I have a CHOICE. I can ride a bike, a scooter (no insurance), take a taxi, walk, etc. Do you even begin to grasp that concept? I doubt it, because I have pointed it out several times now, and yet you keep insisting that somehow auto insurance is mandatory. IT IS NOT mandatory!

So to end this debate, the great JungleJil is 100% right in his thoughts and no one else can have an opinion.

It must be great to be the smartest man on the planet, so I guess I am just too stupid to keep reading your elite blog. So to never question you again or heaven forbid have a difference of opinion, I will never stop by here again. I guess that is what you really want, only readers that agree with every thing you write.

Bye

Jungle Jil said...

Glad you finally saw the light.