You are 28 years old and you are doing pretty well.
So well, in fact, that a new snowmobile has been calling to you from the dealer's showroom. You could squeeze the payments into your budget for the next three years.
Or you could buy health care insurance.
You're never sick, right? And a new sled would be loads of fun. So, it's an easy call.
Until, of course, the day sled and tree meet, putting you in the hospital for a week. You can't work, you have no insurance and you can't pay the mounting medical bills.
So, you don't.
Who does? The thousands of responsible people who made the sacrifice and paid for health care insurance either on their own or through their jobs.
Not fair, right? Why should they pay for your bad choice?
That's why most Republicans and big business leaders 30 years ago embraced something now called the "individual mandate."
"We called this responsible national health insurance," says Mark Pauly, who developed the idea for George H.W. Bush. "There was kind of an ethical and moral support for the notion that people shouldn't be allowed to free-ride on the charity of fellow citizens."
The individual mandate was even endorsed by health care analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
For 15 years it was part of Republican orthodoxy, in steadfast opposition to Democrats who either wanted a government health care plan or who felt employers should be forced to buy their employees insurance.
In 2006, Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made it a key part of his health care overall, which was praised by Republicans and Democrats alike.
"Remember," Romney wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2006, "someone has to pay for health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay."
In 2008, The Business Roundtable, consisting of the CEOs of America's largest companies, endorsed individual mandate.
Sen. Barack Obama, meanwhile, opposed it as he campaigned in 2008, favoring instead more employer mandates.
In 2009, however the Democratic Congress adopted the Republican idea as part of their sweeping health care overhaul.
It made sense: You can't offer a health care plan that only includes sick people. Everyone needs to participate to hold down costs.
Republicans should have been flattered. They were not.
Republican attorneys general in 17 states filed suits opposing the mandate. Maine's two Republican senators last week filed an amicus brief in support of one case in Florida.
Experts say the suits are unlikely to succeed, pointing out that state government requires people to buy car insurance.
The comparison is imperfect, but the underlying reality is the same. You can't allow people to buy homeowner insurance after their house burns down.
You can't base life insurance around people who only buy it after being diagnosed with a terminal disease.
You can't sell auto insurance policies only to people who have just wrecked their cars.
Allowing people who can afford to buy health insurance choose not to simply makes health insurance more expensive for everyone else.
That is unfair and unsustainable.