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For Massachusetts residents with the effrontery to disobey their Boston masters in the matter of health insurance, the new year comes with a bite. As the Boston Globe enthusiastically phrases it:
The maximum penalty for those who flout the law and do not buy health insurance would be $912 a year, compared to $219 in 2007.
Notice the wording of the above sentence. If a Bay State citizen insists on exercising his autonomy as a free man in the free market, he’s a scofflaw. The Globe also wheels out that tired canard about automobile insurance:
This approach makes buying health insurance a responsibility of all residents, similar to the way drivers are required to purchase auto insurance.
As I explain here, this is a false analogy. There is no universal mandate requiring everyone to buy car insurance, and the market for auto insurance is (mostly) free of the kind government-induced distortions that make health insurance so expensive.
Most ironic of all, this travesty was signed into law by a man who represents himself as a believer in the free markets. Because he is now hoping to get the votes of conservatives and Libertarians, Mitt Romney has downplayed the role of mandates in his proposals for national health care reform. But, as Peter Chowka points out, they will probably materialize again if he is elected:
It is reasonable to assume that, if he is elected and keeps his promise to insure everyone in the U.S. “within four years,” mandates would be required.
With a guy like Romney in the White House, who needs Hillary?