Obama Wrong About Mandatory Auto Insurance

I watched Barack Obama’s address on health policy tonight on television at Liberty On the Rocks at the Denver Tech Center. Both NPR and Fox 31 sent reporters to cover the speech and the free-market response to it. I’ll have more to say about the speech in coming days. For now, I want to correct but one of Obama’s remarks:

“That’s why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.”

It is simply not true that states “require you to carry auto insurance.” Rather, you must buy auto insurance (or face fines) only if you drive an automobile on politically operated roads.

For example, Colorado’s statute 10-4-619 states that “compulsory coverage” applies to “every owner of a motor vehicle who operates the motor vehicle on the public highways of this state or who knowingly permits the operation of the motor vehicle on the public highways of this state.”

In other words, if you don’t own a motor vehicle, or you don’t drive your vehicle on “public highways,” you aren’t required to buy auto insurance.

It is indeed interesting that Obama sees a politically controlled industry as the model for health care.

Obama’s proposal to force everybody to buy politically controlled insurance is not like the requirement to buy auto insurance for public highways. Under Obama’s proposal, there is no escape and no exception. If you don’t buy insurance that politicians and their appointed bureaucrats approve for you, you face hefty fines. If you want to self-insure, or if you don’t like the politically-approved insurance, that’s tough. You will be forced to buy it. Because Obama is all about choice, competition, and freedom. And two plus two equals five.

September 10 Update: Wesword’s Michael Roberts picked up on the NPR coverage of Liberty On the Rocks and also quoted this blog post. As I pointed out in the comments, this post made a delimited point quickly. I’ve written much more about mandated insurance elsewhere.

5 thoughts on “Obama Wrong About Mandatory Auto Insurance”

  1. Well, if you promise not to drive on public roads, you don’t need to get auto insurance, right?

    If you promise never, ever, to visit a hospital without prepaying for any service you might need, then you don’t need to get health insurance. That’s the same thing.

    So when you get hit by a truck and need $100,000 of surgery to save your life, you agree to forego all care you can’t afford. If you are unconscious, the hospital will have to wait until they have proof you can pay. And if you are disabled because you didn’t get proper care, then all public benefits such as Social Security, foodstamps, etc. are void, since you could have been healthy if you bought insurance.

    Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to force doctors to stand by and watch you die because you refused to pay your share of the community health care system?

  2. Apparently, “Rationalism” (an appropriate screen name) has missed the fact that it’s possible to buy insurance without being forced to do so.

    Why do some people decline to purchase insurance? The main reason is that politicians have jacked up premiums through a vast net of controls and forced young, healthy workers to subsidize others via expensive insurance premiums. Those controls should be rolled back.

    The federal government should also expand Health Savings Accounts, used with high-deductible insurance, to offset the tax distortion driving expensive, non-portable, employer-paid insurance.

    Next time, “Rationalism,” try coming up with an argument rather than a straw man.

  3. Isn’t the larger issue that personal auto insurance is required only as it relates to injuring others? I.e., liability insurance?

    I’m not required to carry comprehensive/collision insurance if I don’t want to. I only need liability insurance as a guarantee that I can protect others if I injure them.

    I might be misinformed. But in my ignorance, this seems a very inappropriate comparison.


  4. Howdy Ari. This is Dale Reed from SepSchool.

    Was Googling “mandatory auto insurance” and was pleased to find your site.

    As you know I live in Washington State and I am not required to purchase auto insurance. I bought a $60k CD at the credit union and after some paperwork I am earning some interest instead of paying an insurace company $350 and increasing every year. Dale

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