By Sam Baker - 03/31/12 12:00 PM EDT
Why does the mandate exist?
While framing the mandate as a way to regulate the healthcare market, the government says the purpose of the mandate is to crack down on “free riders” — uninsured people who go to the hospital and can’t pay their bills, passing the cost of their care on to taxpayers and people with insurance.
The mandate’s other purpose is to bring young, healthy people into the system, offsetting the cost of requiring insurance companies to cover sick people. But in that context, it’s linked more directly to the insurance market.
“This statute undeniably operates in the health insurance market,” Clement said. “And the government can't say that everybody is in that market. The whole problem is that everybody is not in that market, and they want to make everybody get into that market.”
Five questions that could shape the court’s ruling: