With Medicare headed for insolvency in approximately a decade, it would seem that the federal government would gladly accept any offer by individuals to forgo their Medicare benefits willingly and to pay for private health insurance of their choosing.
But that's not how Washington works.
After all, it would not make Medicare look very good if too many people were to begin taking a pass on its benefits in favor of better private coverage.
Five senior citizens who wanted to buy their own medical insurance sued to have themselves declared ineligible for Medicare benefits.
That would have freed them to pay for and receive full benefits from a private insurer, which will furnish them with only partial benefits so long as they remain Medicare-eligible.
But a federal appeals court has now ruled that once they signed up for Social Security, the senior citizens were forbidden to become ineligible for Medicare.
In other words, the only way they can reject Medicare -- which would save the taxpayers money -- is to surrender their Social Security benefits as well.
Is that not ridiculous?
When federal rules and bureaucracy have become so entrenched that the American people cannot officially opt out of costly government benefits even of their own free will, then can we not see why the federal government is $15.3 trillion in debt -- and why programs such as Medicare are going broke?
Alas, this is not the only way that Washington is compelling the American people to participate in big government health programs.
Under the rules of ObamaCare, most Americans will be forced to purchase government-approved medical insurance. And companies with at least 50 employees will have to start providing such insurance.
That is a recipe for destroying jobs.
Worse still, individuals or businesses caught disobeying ObamaCare's unconstitutional mandates face heavy fines.
There is a lot of speculation about whether Congress will repeal ObamaCare if enough Republicans win seats in the November elections and if President Barack Obama is defeated. There is also hope that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn the law later this year.
But while we may disagree with GOP presidential hopeful and Texas Congressman Ron Paul on a number of things, he was not overstating the case in something he said during a TV interview in 2010. Congress may or may not repeal ObamaCare, he said, but "the bankruptcy of this country is going to repeal it. ... [G]overnment won't be able to pay anything out."
It would plainly be wise to face fiscal reality before we reach that crisis point.