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Mandatory insurance, taxing us to death

STEVEN KURLANDER, Florida Voices Staff
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:54 PM

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The House voted earlier this week to get rid of Obamacare on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling that its insurance mandate was constitutional.

And so the debate continues about whether the government should impose a "tax" on Americans who refuse to buy health insurance.

Left unsaid is whether other forms of mandatory insurance also represent a tax -- taxes that are going through the roof.

Insurance is meant to manage the risk from untoward injury to one's self and property. But buying insurance used to be a voluntary act made to hedge against a calamitous event in one's life or business.

Taxes, on the other hand, are a government's demand for money to support operations, infrastructure, defense, and the delivery of goods and services. With rare exception, you have no choice but to pay taxes.

In casting the deciding vote for the Affordable Care Act, Chief Justice John Roberts stated the obvious: the Obama mandate was the compulsory payment of health insurance payments -- and while the law used the word "penalty," it was really a tax.

The ruling confirmed that insurance itself has evolved -- from a voluntary hedge against loss, to a major tax burden on Americans who are paying more and more of their income for insurance.

Think about it: How much do you pay each month for insurance made mandatory if you want to drive a car, finance a home or hire an employee?

Insurance payments have become another form of taxation, and insurance companies are reaping billions in profits from such mandates by manipulating markets and statistics, using their enormous political influence in state capitals and Washington to sock it to taxpayers.

Just look at Florida. With the help of the state legislature over the years, the payment of mandatory property, car and worker's compensation insurance has negated any benefit gained from the lack of a state income tax. And these hidden taxes are helping depress an abysmal real estate market and our economic recovery.

While conservatives are the first to rail against the nanny states of Europe, which levy high taxes to hedge against individual catastrophic losses that insurance companies here cover, don't Americans really pay the same -- not in taxes, but in insurance payments?

The Supreme Court's ruling on Obamacare made obvious that mandatory insurance is really a tax, and in Florida, such taxes are skyrocketing. Yet no one on the campaign trail is talking about it.

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly's Kommentary, writes a weekly column for Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel and is a South Florida communications strategist.

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