There’s a lot of talk recently if the federal government has the right to mandate its citizens to buy anything, even health insurance. Most states mandate that you buy car insurance IF you drive. But you don’t have to drive. So there is only a mandate if you choose to partake in that activity. Since some of the health care legislation that has come down off the Hill includes mandates, that if not fulfilled result in a fine, people are now questioning the Constitutionality of these bills.
Many in Congress who approve of mandates will cite the “general welfare” clause in the Constitution. To understand why that doesn’t fit, you have to go back to 1776 and understand what “general welfare” meant. Here is a good write-up on the situation, including quotes from Jefferson. Bottom line, the government can’t force anyone to buy anything.