Brown v. Obamacare
Mary Brown is one of the plaintiffs in the case to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or Obamacare) requirement that all Americans have health insurance. This requirement is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”, and its constitutionality is being decided by the Supreme Court right now.
Brown’s argument was that her family doesn’t need health insurance because they are perfectly capable of paying for their own healthcare. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson noted, with regard to Brown’s complaint, that “She is a small-business owner … [who] does not believe the cost of health insurance is a wise or acceptable use of her resources.” To Mrs. Brown, the mandate merely requires her to pay for the insurance companies’ overhead, and that is unacceptable.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Supreme Court. Last fall, well after filing her objection to the individual mandate, the auto repair business the couple ran in Florida failed. The couple filed for bankruptcy. Significantly, the couple has unpaid medical debt…precisely the situation the individual mandate is supposed to combat.
The Browns’ unpaid medical bills join the nearly $58 billion in annual unpaid medical bills. Who pays those bills? About $43 billion comes directly out of our taxes, paid from the general funds. The rest is borne by the medical facilities, who recover a portion of their loss through increased fees for service, which translates into higher medical insurance premiums for those who are insured.
In other words, when Mary Brown doesn’t pay, the rest of us must pay for her.
Of course, we have the option as a society to simply refuse to treat the Browns. But aside from Ron Paul Libertarians, there doesn’t appear to be much support for that option. And we have the option of continuing as we have, with every one of us paying more so that the Browns can pay less. Yet that is a policy in opposition to personal responsibility. Given that the Republicans — the party who claims to be in favor of personal responsibility — opposes the individual mandate, and the Democrats — the party who Republicans claim to be in favor of making taxpayers cover irresponsible behavior — support the mandate, it seems that the personal responsibility meme is not supported by the evidence here.
Or we have the option of requiring that people be fiscally responsible for their healthcare coverage.
I’ve pointed out many times that I support personal responsibility. I do so here as well. And as long as we as a nation agree to provide health care to all who need it, regardless of the ability to pay, then we as a nation need to ensure that those who receive medical treatment do so responsibly.
Mary Brown, a plaintiff in the case opposing the individual mandate, is herself evidence of why we need the individual mandate.
- Supreme Court Watch: PPACA on Trial (logarchism.com)
- Supreme Court Watch: PPACA Day 2 (logarchism.com)
- Is There Hope For Health Insurance Even If Obamacare Is Declared Unconstitutional? (theinsurancebarn.wordpress.com)
- If ObamaCare’s individual mandate is struck down, could it still stand? (theblaze.com)
- “Pinhead Density Arguments”: There Was A Reason Conservatives Once Supported The Individual Mandate (mykeystrokes.com)
- Supreme Court Watch: PPACA Day 3 (logarchism.com)
- Moral Hazard, Health Care Coverage and the Individual Mandate (themoderatevoice.com)
- Reason Rupe: While 51 Percent Oppose Individual Mandate, 56 Favor Employer Mandate (reason.com)
- From the Irony Department (Individual Mandate Edition) (outsidethebeltway.com)