Obama: Forcing People to Buy Health Insurance ‘Should Not Be Controversial’

August 15, 2011 - 3:33 PM

(CNSNews.com) – On his bus tour, President Barack Obama said the federal health care law’s individual mandate, which requires every American to purchase health insurance, “should not be controversial.”

To date, 26 states have sued the federal government, arguing that the individual mandate is unconstitutional because the U.S. Constitution does not grant Congress the power to require Americans to purchase a good or service.

“Here’s the problem – if an insurance company has to take you, has to insure you, even if you’re sick but you don’t have an individual mandate, then what would everybody do? They would wait until they get sick and then you’d buy health insurance, right?” Obama told an audience at the first stop of his bus tour in Cannon Falls, Minnesota on Monday.

“The basic theory is, look, everybody here at some point or another is going to need medical care and you can’t be a free rider on everybody else. You can’t not have health insurance then go to the emergency room and each of us, who have done the responsible thing and have health insurance, suddenly we have to pay the premiums for you. That’s not fair.”

Obama continued, “So if you can afford it, you should get health insurance just like you get car insurance. This should not be controversial but it has become controversial partly because of people’s view that – well, let me just say this, you’ve got a governor who’s running for president right now who instituted the exact same thing in Massachusetts.”

Referring to the health care law signed into law by former Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, Obama also said, “This used to be a Republican idea by the way, this whole idea of the individual mandate and suddenly some, it’s like they got amnesia, it’s like, ‘oh, this is terrible, this is going to take away freedom for Americans all over the world, all over the country’ so that’s a little puzzling.”

 

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama Speaks At Cannon Falls, Minn.

When campaigning against then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, Obama argued against an individual health insurance mandate.

 

“Both of us want to provide health care to all Americans. There’s a slight difference, and her plan is a good one. But, she mandates that everybody buy health care. She’d have the government force every individual to buy insurance and I don’t have such a mandate because I don’t think the problem is that people don’t want health insurance, it’s that they can’t afford it,” Obama said in a Feb. 28, 2008 appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' television show.

“So, I focus more on lowering costs. This is a modest difference. But, it’s one that she’s tried to elevate, arguing that because I don’t force people to buy health care that I’m not insuring everybody. Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t."