In his speech to a joint session of Congress last night, the president offered what presumably was meant to sound like an innocuous, or at least reasonable, analogy:
Unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek--especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions--just can't be achieved. And that's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance--just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.
First, in fact, no state requires individuals to carry auto insurance. The owner of a car, which may be either an individual or a corporate entity, is required to carry insurance as a condition for a government permit allowing the car to be driven on public roads. Individual drivers, of course, are also required to obtain a government license, which requires fulfilling other conditions.
Second, insurance rates are set based on risk. It would be great to purchase property insurance AFTER a hurricane damaged your home. Oh wait, Mississippi tried that after Katrina.