From the time President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, one of the most controversial components of the law was the individual mandate. This provision requires every American who can afford insurance coverage to purchase some kind of minimally comprehensive policy. Presumably, with the other measures that the ACA will enforce (such as cost control, no pre-existing condition limitations, etc.), insurance will become affordable for a much wider group of people, and by the time the mandate goes into effect in 2014, purchasing insurance should, theoretically, be no problem. 

The individual mandate is based on the commerce clause of the Constitution. But critics decry the basis as flimsy, claiming the mandate is, in fact, unconstitutional. As the mandate debate creeps closer to the Supreme Court, supporters of the ACA are left to wonder if the most crucial aspect of the law has any legs to stand on.

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