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Abstract

What is the government’s role in health care? On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare.” Did the government’s hand reach too far into the health care economy of our nation? This paper focuses on the Affordable Care Act’s general application to the capitalist tradition as framed by Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, with a limited analysis of the federal mandate to purchase individual health insurance. First, I will provide an overview of our nation’s health care system and the Affordable Care Act. Then, I will analyze Adam Smith’s exceptions to markets free from government intervention. Next, I will analyze Milton Friedman’s theory allowing for limited government intervention. By doing so, I will answer the following questions: Is health care a good that is best allocated in a free market with liberal traditions? Or, as required by the Affordable Care Act, should health insurance be mandated to provide for equal access to health care? Does one’s health, the care of one’s health, and health care insurance facilitate commerce? If the market is unprofitable for some, but not all, should the government intervene?