HHS touts insurance benefits of healthcare reform law ahead of court arguments

The Obama administration released a report Tuesday that defends the need for healthcare reform's individual mandate ahead of the first appeals court arguments challenging the requirement. 

Uninsured families can only afford to pay about 12 percent of hospitalization costs on average, according to the study. In all, only about 5 percent of uninsured patients' hospital bills are paid in full.

The result, the study says, is a heightened risk of financial catastrophe for people who can't find insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or can't afford it, and billions of dollars' worth of cost-shifting to insured patients' premiums.

"To lower the cost of healthcare for everyone, we have to stop making those who act responsibly pick up the healthcare tab for those who don’t — and that means we need everyone to be a part of the health insurance marketplace," White House communications official Stephanie Cutter said on the White House blog. "Bringing everyone into the system will also enable us to finally ban discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions."