Friday, February 17, 2012

Pills are cheaper than pregnancy

ObamaCare includes an individual mandate to buy, or have provided by provided by government or their employer, health insurance coverage. The plan they get must meet certain criteria; otherwise, they could buy a "policy" for $1 which provides no real coverage. One of the criteria is that health insurance plans must include contraception without any co-pays for the beneficiary.

Initially, Obama's proposed rule would have required any employer that's not a church to provide their employees with insurance that meets the above requirement. This mandate included religiously-affiliated organizations, like the University of Notre Dame and Catholic hospitals. Given the Church's teachings against contraception, this proposal met resistance. In an effort to appease the Church, the mandate was modified to require health insurance companies to offer the coverage. Notre Dame would purchase a plan from Insurance Company X that doesn't include contraception coverage. Insurance Company X would then send letters to each beneficiary offering free contraception coverage. Notre Dame doesn't have to pay for contraception, but women still get access.

Where does the money come from to provide this contraception? It turns out that medical care for unintended pregnancy is pretty darn expensive. The average normal pregnancy costs $7,600, and that assumes everything goes well. Then there are the costs of paying vast sums to all those super-rich pediatricians to care for the kid afterwards; well-child checks cost about $100 each, and about $85 for the average sick visit. On the other side, contraception ranges from about $140 to $800 per year, depending on the type used. An abortion at Planned Parenthood costs $300-$950. One unintended normal pregnancy, birth and childhood can pay for lots of care under the mandate.

Opponents of the bill point to a survey of 15 health insurers which shows a plurality saying that the mandate would increase costs. 6 said it would increase costs, 3 said they budget for contraception anyway, 1 said the change would not increase costs, and 5 said they didn't know. But the question asked of these companies only considered their costs in the first 1 or 2 years of the mandate. Funny thing about kids is that they usually need medical care for more than 1 to 2 years. If it's debatable whether the mandate costs anything in the first 1-2 years, it's a fairly safe bet that it doesn't cost anything at all on a longer time-frame.

Tomorrow, we'll look at who really pays for coverage under the mandate, and why it's ridiculous for Church bishops to have anything to say on the matter.

1 comment:

Chuck said...

I agree that the "survey" seems highly dubious. The 6 who claim that it will have an increase in pharmaceutical costs is a reasonable result, but nowhere do they describe the rest of their calculations. You can't change Rx coverage and not have it impact medical coverage in some way. They other piece that gets me is these 5 insurers who can't do this calculation. How can there be 5 "large health insurers" not have actuaries to calculate this? In fact I'm pretty sure that is what an actuary was designed for. So with 11 of the 15 answers being crap, this "survey" seems politically driven where insurers are trying to seem like they are in financial trouble. Realistically, they will just pass the cost (not the saving) to the people anyway.