Hey, Justice Scalia: Mandate prevents freeloading

In the arguments before the Supreme Court on the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, Justice Antonin Scalia likened it to a slippery slope that could lead to the federal government forcing citizens to buy broccoli. In response, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. could have countered Mr. Scalia's argument by comparing the consumption of healthcare services by the willingly uninsured to shoplifting, which is a crime.

Many of the 50 million Americans who don't have health insurance can afford to buy it but don't. Their medical costs are passed to the insured, just as retailers pass along the cost of shoplifting through higher prices to honest consumers. The cost of "uncompensated" health care (costs not picked up by the insured or by taxpayers) is about $1,000 annually per insured family, according to a 2009 study by Families USA. By striking down the individual mandate, the Supreme Court would be defending fraud committed by those who choose not to pay for health insurance against the millions of Americans who do.

Mitch Koppelman, Towson

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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