It looks like President Obama and the Democrats might be starting to give up on the public option as part of their health insurance reform plan. However, they don’t seem to be giving any consideration to the idea of dropping the individual mandate to purchase insurance, which I think is unfortunate. An individual mandate, in my opinion, is immoral and unconstitutional. It’s one thing for the government to tax people, but telling people how they must spend their money is going too far. Check out this great post at Q and O which discusses an often-ignored issue, the constitutionality (or lack thereof) of Congress forcing all Americans to buy health insurance.
I think it would be a much better idea to have a compromise bill that included the public option but dropped the individual mandate. The public option, although it might result in higher taxes, is not as objectionable to me as the idea of the government requiring people to buy a product. I wrote a little letter to Obama through the WhiteHouse.gov contact page telling him as much:
I hope you are enjoying your vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.
I have an idea for a health bill that would be a good compromise between liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. As a libertarian-leaning conservative, I strongly oppose an individual mandate to purchase insurance. I believe that it is simply wrong for the government to require people to buy a particular product. People have a right to make their own decisions about what to buy with their money and to decide whether or not they want to take the risk of not having insurance.
However, I actually like the idea of a public option that is open to everyone. I have really disliked every private insurance plan my family has had (I am a college student so my parents, not me, get to choose our insurance). Private health insurance companies seem to always charge exorbitant prices for a confusing, bad-quality product. I would like the option to try something different.
So, my humble suggestion is that you consider supporting a bill that includes a public option, but no individual mandate. Dropping the public option but retaining the individual mandate, as some people are suggesting, is a bad idea because it would disappoint liberals who support the public option, as well as libertarians and conservatives like me who oppose the individual mandate. Keeping the public option but getting rid of the mandate would give Democrats something they want while also getting rid of the thing that most offends libertarians and Republicans. Such a bill would be a real compromise that gives all sides something they want.
Obama will probably never see my letter since he gets so much mail, but if enough people tell him what they think, you never know, he might listen. If you oppose the individual mandate (or no matter what your views are), why not send him a letter, too?