Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lesson #283 on how "free" really isn't free


Strangely enough, insurance providers not too jazzed on the contraceptive mandate.

One of two chimeras worked into the contraceptive "compromise"/"revision" by the Obama aministration a couple of weeks ago was that Catholic employers would not have to pay directly for the subject contraceptives or abortifacients and that cost would be covered by the insurance companies (the other being that the Catholic employers could strike that specific policy language from the policy... but they'd be forced to provide it anyway. No, really. This is what passes for legislative and policy logic with these people).

Insurance providers, as you might imagine, we're rather puzzled by this turn of events.

The insurance industry is concerned it will take a hit from the Obama administration’s mandate that they provide birth control in health plans for employees of religious organizations that object to the coverage.

Publicly, the health insurance industry has avoided getting involved in the fight.

But in private, the industry is dubious of the administration’s argument that the insurance industry wouldn't take a hit because birth control is cheaper than unwanted pregnancies.
The trade group America's Health Insurance Plans has limited its comments to saying it worries about the "precedent" the mandate would set. The concern is that the government could eventually require health plans to cover any number of preventive services – even prescription drugs - without copays or deductibles, under the theory that they save money in the long-term.

When the text of ObamaCare has over 700 instances of "The Secretary (of Health and Human Services) "may" or "shall", insurance providers have every reason to worry about arbitrary mandate shenanigans in the future.

They would also like to remind everyone that "free" really isn't free.

Privately, however, insurers say there's nothing "free" about preventing unwarranted pregnancies. They say the mandate also covers costly surgical sterilization procedures, and that in any case even the pill has up-front costs.

"Saying it's revenue-neutral doesn't mean it's free and that you're not paying for it," an industry source told The Hill.

Doctors still have to be paid to prescribe the pill, drugmakers and pharmacists have to be paid to provide it - and all that money has to come from insurance premiums, not future hypothetical savings, the source said.

This notion of long-range savings from the prevention of unwanted pregnancies doesn't really do the insurance companies any good as they are expected to balance their sheets and turn a profit this year.

So, if in the "revision", Catholic employers/employees are freed the burden from paying for this, who is going to pay for it?

It's not clear how those costs would be passed on. The regulation bars the health insurance plans from raising the religiously-affiliated employers' premiums, so it's possible workers at companies that directly offer contraceptive coverage would get stuck with higher premiums to make up the lost revenue.

Excellent. Paying for someone else, not even covered under the same policy, to have sex.

For a bill that wasn't even read, stand by for a continuing stream of absolutely non-sensical and confounding "revisions" and "compromises".

And it is duly noted that the only time the statist-left becomes interested in cost-savings, they are talking condoms and the pill.

We leave you this evening with the Master, talkin' about "free":

"No doubt we could go on forever..."

No, actually since Friedman laid waste to that smug professor's notion of "free", we can all go home now.


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