Guest Post – Jeff Przybyl : Healthcare or Freedom?

Healthcare or Freedom?

Was last week’s Supreme Court hearing of Florida, et al. v. Department of Health and Human Services, et al. an argument over healthcare or freedom?  When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) was debated and signed into law, supporters championed lower health care costs, expanded coverage to more Americans and guaranteed coverage for all.  Who can forget the administration’s claim that this plan will save the average family $2,500 and the President claiming “individuals who are satisfied with their current health insurance plans will be able to keep them” http://freebeacon.com/sebelius-has-no-idea-if-obamacare-adds-to-the-deficit/.  New benefits have started, including coverage to age 26 on your parents’ plan, unlimited lifetime benefits and free contraception, paid by your employer or your insurance carrier if you believe insurance companies give away benefits for free.

All these new benefits have some cost attached to them and must be paid by someone.  One area is a government panel to determine acceptable treatment, brought to light by Sarah Palin’s facebook post http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=113851103434.  This brings us to the “individual mandate”, requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance, with benefits determined by a government panel.  Supporters of the mandate defend the need for all individuals to pay for a benefit that, at some point in their life, they will need.  They point out the requirement of mandatory auto insurance.  They point to the Commerce Clause as the authority to regulate an economic activity – the purchase of health insurance.

Opponents of the individual mandate respond that auto insurance is required only if you choose to drive, the insurance mandate requires your purchase because you breathe.  Virginia’s attorney general Kenneth Cuccinelli began his argument against the mandate with a comparison requiring all citizens to purchase a gun as they may be robbed or required to defend themselves or their fellow citizens at some point and the decision not to buy insurance was not an economic activity and therefore does not fall under the Commerce Clause.  During the Supreme Court hearing, various justices questioned where the government’s role in regulating a market with required purchases would stop, with broccoli as everyone needs to eat or burial insurance as everyone dies at some point.

As last week’s hearing seemed to hinge on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the whole act is in jeopardy due to the lack of a severability clause that would have allowed the law to survive the removal of any of its parts. We have an act that sets benefits you, or your employer, need to buy, benefits (i.e. contraception) someone has to give to you and a penalty/tax if you chose not to do something.   As opponents hold out hope for the death of the law, they look forward to less government intervention in their health  and quite possibly more money in their pocket – afterall who doesn’t think they can spend they money better than the government.

 

Jeff Przybyl is a guest contributor to SMB Matters.  The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the Contributor.

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