Is mandating health care constitutional

09-Jul-2017 23:06

Purists complain that taxes should be proportional to actual income and should not be used mainly to regulate economic behavior, but our tax code, for better or worse, is riddled with such regulatory provisions and so they are clearly constitutional.

Is it unconstitutional to mandate health insurance?

It seems unprecedented to require citizens to purchase insurance simply because they live in the U. (rather than as a condition of driving a car or owning a business, for instance). Since I’m writing in part for a non-legal audience, I’ll start with some basics and provide a lay explanation. Constitutional attacks fall into two basic categories: (1) lack of federal power (Congress simply lacks any power to do this under the main body of the Constitution); and (2) violation of individual rights protected by the “Bill of Rights.” Considering (1), Congress has ample power and precedent through the Constitution’s “Commerce Clause” to regulate just about any aspect of the national economy.

Therefore, several credentialed, conservative lawyers think that compulsory health insurance is unconstitutional. Health insurance is quintessentially an economic good.

Consider one element known as the “individual mandate,” which would require every American to have health insurance, if not through an employer then by individual purchase.

This requirement would particularly affect young adults, who often choose to save the expense and go without coverage.

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But in holding that the penalty for failing to purchase health insuance was a tax, the Supreme Court kept the act's individual mandate in place.

The only possible objection is that its purchase is not the same as “regulating” its purchase, but a mandate is just a stronger form of regulation.

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