With the health care debate still boiling over in Washington, some politicians, including President Barack Obama, have repeatedly drawn the comparison between proposed health care mandates and existing car insurance mandate laws. It's a powerful way to bring the health mandate into terms that average people can understand, support or oppose. It's also a telling sign of the president's opinion of car insurance as a whole. He presents the government mandated car insurance laws as a fundamentally sound program that makes very similar claims to his proposed health care plan.
In his on-the-record statements to the press, President Obama presents his strong belief that the car insurance mandate implemented by the federal government in the 1980s was necessary. He believes his view to be one that few people would disagree with, and used that to support his assertion that a health care insurance mandate would be a success, not a tax increase. "People say to themselves, " (The car insurance mandate) is a fair way to make sure that, if you hit my car, that I'm not covering all the costs," he said. The president also added that few people think of car insurance mandates as a form of taxation, but rather a safety precaution that has been effective and well enforced.
It's hard to argue with the president on the point of whether car insurance plan mandate was successful - though comparing health care and car insurance may be comparing apples to oranges. People don't necessarily need to have cars, but they certainly need to have to have bodies, and opponents of the president were quick to criticize this comparison. However, the president's correlation does draw light to the fact that a mere 30 years ago, the American political argument centered around the question of whether every driver should be required to have a car insurance plan. And now, the widespread acceptance of this plan is inarguable. There is little to no debate over whether car insurance should have been mandated. Even while there are quite a few uninsured drivers on the road, the mandate gave government and local authorities the ability to punish uninsured drivers that cause accidents, and allow the victims of those accidents to seek compensation.
It remains to be seen whether a health insurance mandate would even come close to the success of the car insurance mandate. However, when the leader of the United States draws the comparison, it shows that a country that once considered car insurance plans as optional now fully views them as a necessary responsibility. Perhaps we will be saying the same about mandated health care in 30 years.