Undoubtedly there will be myriad unintended consequences to the law known as the Affordable Care Act. But in the long run, one of the most subtle could turn out to be one of the most damaging.
We’ve set up a law that requires people to buy insurance. If they refuse, they are not charged with a misdemeanor or a felony or anything requiring them to stop breaking the law. Just pay a fine, and it’s okay. You can flaunt the law, pay a minimal fine year after year, and there will never be a reckoning. Never an arrest warrant. No real consequences.
This teaches a terrible lesson to our citizenry – that there’s nothing right or wrong about breaking the rules; that choosing whether or not to follow the law is simply a matter of weighing one’s financial options and making a choice. The concept of the rule of law becomes further diminished.
Later we’ll wonder why our kids think it’s okay to cheat as long as the benefits outweigh the consequences.