Saturday, January 21, 2012

Contradiction abounds in requirement to provide free birth control

Friday, the Obama Administration announced final regulations requiring health care plans to cover birth control without charging any co-pays or deductibles to their participants. The requirement will begin Aug. 1.

The administrative rule will require organizations like religious schools and Catholic hospitals to offer birth control - at no cost - to employees covered by their health plans, though not until 2013. Houses of worship are exempt.

I'm certain that many people are going to be writing about the infringement on religion, and the Catholic religion specifically, but I want to focus on the clear contradiction in thought: that requiring health care plans to provide contraception (or any service/treatment/drug) without a co-pay or deductible somehow 'saves money.'

First, there isn't anyone who doesn't have 'access' to contraception. Any person can purchase condoms and anti-spermicide at the drug store counter - and the effectiveness of each is increased by using them together.

Any woman can get a prescription for birth control from numerous outlets. A doctor may recommend a specific type over another based upon the woman's personal and medical history, but there are so many doctors willing to write the prescriptions that no woman is without 'access.'

This regulation isn't about 'access' - it's about a woman not having to pay for the contraception she wants to use.

From The Hill:

"Birth control is not just basic health care for women, it is an economic concern," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "This common sense decision means that millions of women, who would otherwise pay $15 to $50 a month, will have access to affordable birth control, helping them save hundreds of dollars each year."

As Richards readily admits, women already have access, but they're paying "$15 to $50 per month." With this new rule, they won't be required to pay anything - at least, not up front.

But someone always pays, hence the contradiction.

The manufacturer will still need to be compensated for the product they provide. So while the individual woman won't have to fork over any money at the time she actually get her contraceptive, insurance companies will still have a cost that will need to be covered. Without the ability to charge the individual user, they'll raise their rates on everyone to cover the expense.

This means higher rates for all - including the ones who think they're now getting their contraception for free. Talk about a contradiction between hype and reality.

So of course, it should come as no surprise that the overwhelming comments on the HHS rule were in favor of the requirement. All those people who supported it think they'll no longer have to pay. But that's just a bigger comment on their intelligence and reasoning skills - or perhaps our education system - than it is on the rule itself.

So what about seniors who don't need contraception? Or a single person who is celibate? What about men and women who have had a medical procedure that eliminates the need for contraception? Or individuals who are sterile?

All of these people will now be covering the costs so some can have the luxury of not having any out-of-pocket expenses for a product only they are using.

This is un-American. And it's no different than if my co-worker stole money out of my wallet in order to pay for her birth control pills.

1 comment:

James said...

Un-American, indeed. This is what Obamacare is all about. The choices are out there for anyone who needs to use contraceptives, as you've outlined, Maggie. I want all Republican presidential candidates to immediately tell the American voters that they will work 24/7 to repeal this monolith that Obama is forcing down our throats.

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