Against Mandatory Insurance

 Posted by on 10 April 2008 at 2:52 pm  Health Care, Politics
Apr 102008

This morning, Ari Armstrong and other FIRM Activists strongly encouraged writing in opposition to Massachusetts-type legislation requiring all Colorado residents to purchase individual insurance. For the reasons that Paul recently detailed in this Denver Post op-ed and on the FIRM blog, such legislation would be a disaster for Colorado health care. So, I just wrote and sent the following letter (or a slight variant thereof, depending on the recipient) to the sponsors of the bill, the members of the Colorado Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, my Colorado representative and senator, and to the Colorado governor.

It’s particularly important to vocally oppose mandatory insurance, as it’s widely supported by Republicans and Democrats. To the Democrats, it’s just a more trendy form of universal health care than “single payer” plans. To the Republicans, it’s a way to force people to “be responsible.” Happily, FIRM has changed the minds of some Republicans in Colorado — but given that three of the five sponsors of this bill are Republicans, obviously we have more work to do!

Dear So-and-So,

I am writing to ask you to oppose Senate Bill 217, which would impose mandatory health insurance in Colorado.

The government of Colorado ought to respect and uphold our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. That requires allowing people to make their own decisions in life — whether right or wrong.

Mandatory health insurance would violate those basic American rights. It would force people to spend THEIR money as THE GOVERNMENT sees fit, regardless of the circumstances of their lives. This legislation would force people to spend money on health insurance — at prices inflated by other mandates requiring coverage for services they don’t want and won’t use and by massive government welfare programs and regulations. As a result, many people will not be able to afford goods of greater value to them — like an apartment in a better neighborhood or tutoring for their child.

No one should have to sacrifice even a trivial pleasure like a night at the movies because the government forces them to spend their money to pay for services they won’t ever need — like alcohol rehab, the HPV vaccine, autism treatment, prostate cancer screening — as this legislation would do. (Those are already-existing Colorado mandates. This legislation would encourage even more, as special interest groups lobbied for their “indispensable” service to be covered.)

That’s not the end of the wrongs of mandatory insurance — by any stretch of the imagination. As shown by the less-than-shining example of Massachusetts, this law would drive health care costs upward, encourage doctors to retire or move to another state, decrease access to quality care, create a massive new bureaucracy, and imperil the state’s finances.

This legislation is MORALLY WRONG. Please DO NOT support it.

If your goal is to fix the genuine problems in our health care system, then you MUST advocate FREE MARKET reforms. Eliminate the tax incentive for employer-provided health care. Eliminate all mandates and other regulations on health insurance. Eliminate regulations on medical providers. Gradually eliminate welfare programs.

Then, health insurance might become what it should have been all along: a person’s own safety net for major injury or illness, with all ordinary medical expenses paid for out-of-pocket. That’s how other forms of insurance work — and they work well as a result.

I support Freedom and Individual Rights in Health Care — see — and I hope that you’ll do the same.


Diana Hsieh
Sedalia, Colorado
Ph.D Candidate, Philosophy
University of Colorado, Boulder

I’m sure my letter could have been more eloquent and polished, but sometimes activism is just about what’s possible in the time that you have available.

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