26 Aug 2014

Fun Facts About the “Individual Mandate” of ObamaCare

Health Legislation 23 Comments

In my latest Mises CA post I walk through the CBO’s forecast. An excerpt:

Isn’t it interesting that the “universal coverage” provided by the “Affordable Care Act” will still yield–according to the government’s own projections–almost 4 million Americans who will prefer to pay an average tax of more than $1,000 to the government for 2016, rather than buying health insurance that year?

23 Responses to “Fun Facts About the “Individual Mandate” of ObamaCare”

  1. Darien says:

    I used to live in Massachusetts, and I never once actually paid the Romneycare penalty tax, which I always referred to as a “poor tax” that they assessed on me for not being willing and able to afford the outrageously expensive luxury that is a gold-plated, super-comprehensive “insurance” plan. Very few people ever actually believed me when I described it as a penalty they asses on you for being poor; why, however could they do such a not-progressive thing as tax the poor?

  2. DesolationJones says:

    You put “universal coverage” under quotes, but is Obamacare actually officially presented as universal by the administration?

    • Major.Freedom says:


      “Nobody remembers well those who stand in the way of America’s progress or our people. And that’s what the Affordable Care Act represents. As messy as it’s been sometimes, as contentious as it’s been sometimes, it is progress. It is making sure that we are not the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.


  3. Major.Freedom says:

    Imagine a private company demanding that people either accept their service, or pay them a $1000 penalty each and every year, backed by threats of force.

    They would be considered immoral criminals.

    One ethics for some people, a different ethics for other people. That is statism. Inequality under the law.

    Cases like this highlight the simple fact that ancap ethics is at the very least far superior, intellectually, to the contradictory filled gobbledygook being peddled by the usual suspects here. I mean it is so obvious.

    • John says:

      I get the moral argument. I really do. I think it has some force. But is there a moral problem in Ancapitsan if there are huge numbers of people who can’t afford decent or any medical care? Seems to me like there may be.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        I get the moral argument. I really do. I think it has some force. But is there a moral problem in Ancapitsan if there are huge numbers of people who can’t afford decent or any medical care? Seems to me like there may be.

        As long as there were no more than 30 million, they’d be definitely ahead by $4.2 billion under an-cap than under ObamaCare.

      • razer says:

        So what exactly can the government provide cheaper than free markets can? So fr the score has been Free Markets 8,987,854,712, Gov’t 0. But in the case of health care, the government can win? What do you base this on? Wishful thinking?

        • John says:

          Is the question whether the government can provide it cheaper, or whether the price in the free market is so high that absent a subsidy from somewhere, the vast majority of people can’t afford it. I don’t mean 30 million; I mean more like say 80M or 100M or maybe more. Unless we think the cost of quality care in Ancapistan will be vastly lower than it is anywhere else right now. Which we might. But if we don’t, I think the moral question is perhaps still there.

          • Dan says:

            “I mean more like say 80M or 100M or maybe more.”

            Get real. Why wasn’t healthcare unaffordable for a third of the country before the government started getting heavily involved in the industry?

          • Dan says:

            Also, the vast majority of the people is a heck of a lot higher than 100 million. But that just makes the claim that much more preposterous.

          • razer says:

            Why would the free market price be so high so as to make it unavailable to buy for most people? The free market excels t doing just the opposite. History shows this uite nicely. You are blaming the free market for a problem it never created and presenting the very thing that caused the problem (government intrusion into the markets) as the solution. Why is it things not covered by insurance tend to get cheaper and better each year?

            • John says:

              I understand that many believe the price of health care would come way down if the free market were allowed to operate as it would in Ancapistan. My question is, suppose it didn’t? Suppose it remained so high that many many tens of millions couldn’t afford it absent help. (That does seem to be the situation just about everywhere in the world right now.). Would that be a moral problem for Libertarianism? Or would we regard that as the result of a moral system and therefore while not ideal, morally acceptable?

              • Dan says:

                Libertarianism deals with determining what is a justified use of force. So, for example, we would say that it would be unjustified to force millions of people who can’t afford health insurance to pay a tax for health insurance. So, while it might be unfortunate that someone is without health insurance, we’d oppose kicking that man while he’s already down.

                We would also oppose forcing doctors to care for people who can’t pay them. And we’d oppose taking money from one group of people against their will and giving it to someone else to pay for health insurance.

                We don’t view someone being unable to afford healthcare as a good thing, but we also don’t think using violence or the threat of violence to solve a problem as a good thing. We’d accept any solution where initiatory violence wasn’t involved. And libertarians who are also Austrian economists would say that a free market in healthcare is the best solution to reducing the amount of people that can’t afford it.

              • K.P. says:

                Depends on the libertarian, John. Some believe that private property is completely justified regardless of consequences (markets are irrelevant). Others believe the opposite, that it’s precisely the outcomes of private property that justify them. Most seem to lie in the middle.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                “My question is, suppose it didn’t? Suppose it remained so high that many many tens of millions couldn’t afford it absent help.”

                Why suppose what economics teaches us is wrong?

      • Major.Freedom says:


        What is the moral problem of the mere existence of millions of poor people in say Africa and millions of more wealthy people in say the US?

        Isn’t morality a concept that concerns our actions, not our endowments?

        • John says:

          Yes, I agree that morality concerns our actions. But the imposition of a libertarian system, or put differently, the agreement that we shall abide by libertarian principles, is an action-an action that many economists and philosophers, indeed most, believe would have dire consequences not currently experienced in statist societies. This does not mean, in my view, it shouldn’t be done, or for that matter that people who think the results would be much worse overall than they are in statist societies are right. But I do think the decision to “become libertarian” has moral consequences. They may be good or they may be bad, but I think they exist.

          • Dan says:

            Every political philosophy has consequences.

            “Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.

            In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.”
            ― Robert Higgs

          • Major.Freedom says:


            Are you not still suggesting that there is a moral problem with inequality of wealth?

            What is so “dire” about successful defenses of, and voluntary respect for, private property rights? If morality concerns our actions, and libertarianism is an action that consists of non-aggression, how can that possibly be “dire” unless you are suggesting immorality of the population being statistically diverse and unequal in terms of wealth?

            • John says:

              No, you’re absolutely right. It does suggest there is a moral problem with inequality of wealth, particularly enormous inequalities if wealth. That this is a moral problem is not a novel concept. In fact, it’s the favorite topic of Jesus Christ. Now, what, if anything you do about it, is a harder question. Because, as you have often pointed out, there’s a problem with redistributing wealth too.

              The point I’m thinking about is the point I think you’ve made, which is that Libertarianism is the most, or perhaps the only, moral political system, and should therefore be adopted. If it has some unfortunate consequences, or even much worse consequences for the majority of people, than statism, that is unfortunate but ultimately the right result.

              If Libertarianism is the most moral system, that must be right. But then what do we mean by this? Although Dan suggests that statism has such a bad track record that anything must be better, I personally find the consequentialist argument much tougher to dispose of. The fact is, the western states have done a pretty good job, in historical terms, of providing some security, moderately stable economies, standards of living, health care , retirement security, etc. I think there’s a tendency here to discount the enormous problems that could afflict a libertarian community. Certainly it will not a Utopia, because there is no such thing. So if the consequences of libertarianism are in fact more violence, disorder, economic dislocation, extremes of economic suffering beyond that experienced in statist societies, what if anything do we do about that, and in fact what can we do if we are libertarians?

              • Dan says:

                “Although Dan suggests that statism has such a bad track record that anything must be better…”

                No, that isn’t what I suggest. I simply say that the State has such a bad track record that the burden of proof is on statists to explain why the intiation of violence is necessary for society. I believe an anarchocapitalist society is better economically and morally based off the literature that defends that political philosophy.

      • Major.Freedom says:

        “But is there a moral problem in Ancapitsan if there are huge numbers of people who can’t afford decent or any medical care?”

        OK John, then why not advocate for private companies in ancapistan to steal money and finance healthcare for the poor?

        Wouldn’t it be easier to do since there is such a larger number of potential thieves? In statism, you must convince one group of people, and if they don’t agree, you’re out of luck.

  4. Scott H. says:

    The ability to purchase the insurance AFTER you incur the loss makes for strange bedfellows when it comes time to optimize expected value.

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