A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government. CBO 1994 This statement from a 1994 Congressional Budget Office Memorandum remains true today. Yet, all of the leading House and Senate health-care reform bills being debated in Congress require Americans to either secure or purchase health insurance with a particular threshold of coverage, estimated by CBO to cost up to $15,000 per year for a typical family. This personal mandate to enter into a contract with a private health insurance company is enforced through civil and criminal tax penalties in section 501 of the House bill and with a freestanding mandate and equally questionable civil tax penalties in sections 501 and 513 of the pending Senate bill. The purpose of this compulsory contract, coupled with the arbitrary price ratios and controls, is to require many people to buy artificially high-priced policies to subsidize coverage for others as well as an industry saddled with other government costs and regulations. Congress lawfully could enact a general tax to pay for these subsidies or it could create a tax credit for those who buy health insurance, but that would require Congress to "pay for" or budget for the subsidies in a conventional manner. The sponsors of the current bills are attempting, through the personal mandate, to keep the transfers entirely off budget or--through the gimmick of unconstitutional taxes or penalties they dub "shared responsibility payments"--make these transfers appear to be revenue-enhancing. Why the Personal Mandate to Buy Health Insurance Is Unprecedented and Unconstitutional For those of you who believe that this bill that is being called healthcare reform represents reform you are sadly mistaken. In fact it even violates one of the platforms of the very party who's intent it is to pass it. Further, after many months of painting the insurance companies as the villans they are about to succeed in enriching those very same insurance companies with several million new customers with mandates to purchase insurance. The problem though is that these mandates will lead to several constitutional challenges and according to many it will not pass that test. If that is so then the entire concept of this healthcare bill will collapse.