Mandates Vs. Free-Riders


Is a requirement for every individual to buy health insurance a good thing?

Put aside the Constitutional question for a moment. The Obama Justice Department is also arguing that a mandate is needed to make health insurance work. Are they right?

The basic idea behind their argument concerns the “free rider” issue. Suppose other people spend part of their income on health insurance every pay period so that insurance will be there if they have a serious medical problem. I, on the other hand, choose to remain uninsured — using all of my income for personal consumption.

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