That mandatory health insurance coverage makes sound economic sense, and has had broad support from economists of all persuasions for decades does not seem to be enough to sway Judges John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito of the US Supreme Court. Alarmingly, Scalia does not seem to understand the difference between consumption of insurance—the payment in advance for coverage from ex-post unaffordable catastrophic events, and the consumption of broccoli—something cheap that is enjoyed immediately. All that seems to matter to him is a vague argument that compulsion is government overreach.
What kind of sophistry of argument they have to invent when the Pandora’s box of analogous cases hits their doorstep? The US, like other countries, mandates that its citizens pay for their military. US citizens cannot insist on reducing their tax bill by the share of military spending in government expenditure. As with health care from emergency departments, citizens know they will be protected by their military regardless of whether they pay for it. Directly analogous is the provision of roads, public hospitals and schools, the cost of courts, Supreme Court Justices salaries, police and public servants, etc. Citizens are forced to pay for these things also and are not allowed the freedom to opt out precisely because we know they cannot realistically be excluded from benefiting.
Even if it is a stretch for these Justices to understand the logic behind these things, I wonder what will happen to the compulsory auto-insurance that many states in the US impose on their citizens. Can States in the US do unconstitutional things like that?
If the US Supreme Court rejects the Affordable Health Care Act on the basis of the mandate to purchase, it will not only be a triumph of legal sophistry over economic logic, but an act of the most extreme judicial overreach in that Court’s history.