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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

On the Third Hand: Birth control

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President Obama should resolve to get his administration out of harassing bosses who sincerely oppose the use of birth control, or certain types of birth control, in the coming year.

Personally, I think that using some kind of birth control — whether that means a pill or self-restraint — is the most moral thing people who don’t want to have children can possibly do. The grim reality is that it can be challenging to rear a child today even in a household that includes two able-bodied, solvent parents who are delighted to have a child.

The idea that any babies are cooing at parents who aren’t delighted to see those babies cooing is pretty sad.

On the one hand, I’m sure that statisticians can produce fine analyses proving that including a full range of birth control benefits in the standard Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) preventive services package will make typical enrollees happy; reduce the overall cost of pregnancy- and birth-related benefits; reduce the cost of providing special benefits for children facing multiple challenges, including the horrendous challenge that they weren’t really wanted in the first place; and reduce the likelihood that women in the plans will get abortions. 

On the other hand: This is America. In America, employers and sellers of individual plans have had a long-standing tradition of being able to choose whether and how to offer birth control benefits.

I don’t know whether any employers have made special efforts not to cover conditions related to eating meat, or conditions related to use of blood transfusions, or conditions related to alien abduction. If I had a magic wand, I’d try to come up with a special preventive services package exemptions for those employers, but maybe Obama administration officials could make a persuasive case that this country has no widespread tradition of making special arrangements for employers or insurers with ethical concerns about meat-related conditions.

We clearly have a long-standing tradition of letting employers and insurers in many states make up their own minds about how to handle birth control benefits.

Some of those payers supported PPACA as a whole because of the same moral considerations that now lead them to oppose the PPACA preventive services birth control mandate. How can stomping on those folks be a good thing?

On the third hand: Some rumblings from HHS seem to suggest that this whole tempest was just for pre-election show, anyway, just to make the Republicans look like woman-haters who won’t help women save on their birth control costs. HHS seems to be hinting that it will clear up all of this controversy in a few months, anyway.

If my interpretation of the rumblings is correct: Well, maybe that strategy worked, in the short run. But isn’t it time that we stop trying to make one another look like meanies and Marxist Manchurian candidates for short-term political gain, and instead focus on trying to keep the country from going over the fiscal cliff, the rotten weather cliff, and all of the other cliffs that seem to be on the road ahead of us?

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