Saturday, February 11, 2012

No such thing as free contraception

Yesterday, Catholics across the country were merely angry with the Obamination.  Today, we’re not only angry but mortally offended and insulted.

Why?  Didn’t Pres. Obama outline an accommodation on the HHS mandate that would allow religiously-affiliated institutions to not offer contraceptives and sterilizations?  What more could we want?  Isn’t that enough of a compromise?

In truth, it wasn’t an “accommodation” at all.  Under the “accommodation”, the insurance company would offer the employee the coverage … at no additional cost (wink-wink-nudge-nudge).  But since the employer is still paying the insurance company, and because the insurance company doesn’t get a conscience exemption, the net effect is that the employer will still be paying for the contraceptives indirectly through higher rates … the bookkeeping will look a little different, that’s all.

Let’s explain it a different way: Under the old phrasing, the religiously-affiliated employer was subsidizing coverage for no-copay contraceptives.  Under the new phrasing, the employer is still subsidizing coverage for no-copay contraceptives … but she’s allowed to say she’s not.  But she still has to tell the employee how to get the coverage she’s not providing from the carrier she’s paying to not provide the coverage the employee is still getting.  Make sense to you?  It doesn’t to me.

By offering such a transparently phony compromise, Obama told mandate opponents, “Forget it, you’re not gonna get out of paying for birth control.  I’m just offering you this one chance to chalk up a face-saving ‘win’.  Then you might as well just shut up and bend over.”

The fact is, as several economists told LifeSiteNews today, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  Even assuming demand remains constant and no insurers drop out of the market, there are several states where insurance coverage will have to start, which will drive up the costs of insurance much as will other mandated coverages.

Originally, as economist Sheldon Freeman writes, insurance “arose as a way for individuals to pool their risk of some low-probability/high-cost misfortune befalling them.  It shouldn’t be necessary to point this out, but coming of child-bearing age and choosing to use contraception is not an insurable event.  It’s a volitional act.  It may have good consequences for the person taking the action and society at large, but it is still a volitional act.  It makes no sense to talk about insuring against the eventuality that a particular person will use contraception.  Strictly speaking, contraception has nothing to do with insurance.”

But now …

[Insurance is] a game by which … we pretend that other people pay for stuff.  Look, contraception, mammograms, colonoscopies, and well-baby care are not free.  (See my “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Mammogram.”)  They require labor and resources for which the owners wish — not unreasonably — to be compensated.  Someone has to pay.  If employers are compelled nominally to pay for the coverage, does anyone seriously doubt that employees will actually pay through lower cash wages?  Employers are not charities.  So even without a copayment, we all know deep down that we as workers pay for the coverage.  …  Nevertheless, the truth is so obscured that people can pretend they’re getting something for free.

Compounding the outrage is that the Amish and Christian Scientists are already given exemptions due to their religious beliefs.  Catholics, it can be assumed, aren’t given such an out because we’re far more numerous than the Amish and Christian Scientists combined and definitely have a higher income per household than the Amish; to exempt us is to potentially exempt 1/5th of the Obamacare tax base.

The most common rationalization I see is that covering contraception will actually work out to be a savings on maternal health care and abortion coverage.  This is sheer fantasy.  Employer-provided health insurance will simply be paying for the same percentage of maternities and abortions they paid for when men bought their own condoms and women bought their own pills (or got them from Planned Parenthood).  The fact that insurance is paying for the pills and condoms won’t make the people use them more consistently.  Nor will it turn the 99% effectiveness rate of the Pill — “when consistently used” — into 100% effectiveness: by the Guttmacher Institute’s own “fact sheet”, of the 54% of women who had gotten pregnant while using some form of contraceptive, 13% of the women who had used the Pill reported correct use.[*]

In fact, besides the increased cost of covering the Pill, carriers also face the increased risks of stroke, heart disease and a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer.  Given that in a reasonable-man interpretation contraceptives can’t be called medically necessary, and that most form of contraceptives have their own health risks, we’re talking about a lot of costs to insurance carriers that will be inevitably and necessarily passed on to employers, who will themselves pass it on to employees through diminished wages.

It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife (Humanae Vitae 17).

Over the last four years, I’ve written extensively on birth control, how it fails, and how those who promote it deceive us.  In this post, I’ve concentrated on the economic aspect because after 8/1/2013 — assuming the mandate survives that long — everyone will bear an increasingly heavier economic burden for “free pills and rubbers”.  But the most disturbing thing about the popular support for the mandate is that so many people are willing to sell out religious liberty and push churches back into the catacombs for the false promise of sex without consequences.

Just as Esau sold Jacob his birthright for a bowl of soup, and Judas his Master for thirty pieces of silver.  How little people have changed in 3,500 years.

Today’s mandated contraceptive coverage sets the stage for tomorrow’s mandated abortion coverage.  That’s why compromise is out of the question.

[*] The numbers refer to women who had had abortions in the study period, but it’s not reasonable to presume that women who gave birth or had miscarriages during that time were necessarily better or worse in contraceptive use.