Obamacare in Court: is it unconstitutional to imitate Europe?

NEW YORK | You are going to hear it more than often. It is called individual mandate: citizens required to purchase health insurance, or face a penalty. It is the Gordian knot of Obamacare, the new US Health law. And it is also the essence of both the Netherlands health system (it has been since 2006) and the Swiss (since 1994).  In that regard, the US is trying to imitate part of Europe to try to solve that shameful situation in which around 45 million Americans are uninsured or to reign in the ever increasing health care cost, double the rest of western democracies with worst results.

This Monday March 26 the US Supreme Court opened three days of arguments to determine if that provision in Obamacare is constitutional, and in case it is not, if the rest of the law (the one prohibiting insurance companies to reject candidates with pre-existing conditions or the one extending insurance benefits for descendants until the age of 26) can be saved.

The ruling is expected for June. The challengers (led by 26 republican states) argue that the federal government can’t oblige citizens to buy any product. The White House considers that they can, in the same fashion they claim taxes or make all drivers get a driving license. And, they say, the solution to have affordable care for the sick citizens is to make healthy ones share the cost. It is either that, or having socialized medicine like UK or France. And that is not very American.


The ruling is expected to be “the ruling of the decade”, as important and with the same or bigger impact than those very recent ones: the one that gave George W. Bush the victory in the disputed presidential elections of 2000, and the Citizen United decision where the court allowed unlimited amount of money into politics.

The Obamacare is going to have huge implications: it will define the rest of the presidential campaign. It is already a very hot topic. On Monday groups of pro and against this issue staged protest and the mass media seems willing to spend the rest of the week talking about it.


There has even been fight regarding the name. The official one is Affordable Care Act. Republicans and teapartiers started calling it Obamacare to compare it to Hillarycare et al. Democrats tried for a while to avoid people calling it that way, because it sounded derogatory. But they have admitted they can’t, and are trying now to promote it in twitter with a positive tone: ILoveObamacare.


About the Author

Ana Fuentes
Columnist for El País and a contributor to SER (Sociedad Española de Radiodifusión), was the first editor-in-chief of The Corner. Currently based in Madrid, she has been a correspondent in New York, Beijing and Paris for several international media outlets such as Prisa Radio, Radio Netherlands or CNN en español. Ana holds a degree in Journalism from the Complutense University in Madrid and the Sorbonne University in Paris, and a Master's in Journalism from Spanish newspaper El País.

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