Health care represents a special area of public policy for libertarians, although not for the reasons typically offered in support of government intervention. In limited circumstances, a substantial number of libertarians support state-sponsored coercion to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. In the absence of violence, theft, tortious injury, fraud, or breach of contract, however, libertarians reject the use of coercion in health and medicine as immoral and counterproductive.

People can do violence to each other by transmitting contagious diseases. Therefore, most libertarians sanction limited government efforts to identify and contain infectious diseases and punish those who infect others intentionally or negligently. They do so cautiously, however. A 2004 survey published in the journal Health Affairs hints at one way such powers could be abused. ...

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