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Politics: White House comes up with new shell game to pretend it isn't forcing contraception coverage

Published by: Dan Calabrese on Friday February 1st, 2013

Dan Calabrese

By DAN CALABRESE - Absurd.

Let's begin with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey would have said. When the government dictates the terms of contracts between private parties, nothing good will result. And no attempt by the government to make the harm its doing appear to be something else will change the fact that it is harm.

So: Remember the uproar over the ObamaCare mandate that employers cover contraception in employee health care plans? Catholic institutions especially objected, since contraception is considered sinful in Catholic teaching. My point here is not to endorse that teaching (I'm a Christian but not Catholic, and I can find nothing in Scripture that supports it), but simply to point out that it's the right of the Catholic Church just as much as anyone else to decide what they want to offer in the way of employee benefits.

The political agenda of the White House is to force employers to pay for contraception, and they weren't prepared for the blowback they would get from those who objected to paying for this particular benefit - for whatever reason. So they tried to mollify these employers by claiming that they'd persuaded insurers to absorb the cost of contraception coverage, and that it would not be covered by the premiums these employers would be paying.

That's a good one. Money is fungible, and everything the insurers have to do represents a cost that will influence the premiums they have to charge. They and the White House can pretend all they want that they're simply eating the cost of contraception coverage, and charging employers the exact same premiums they would be charging if they didn't have to cover it. But no one with even the most rudimentary understanding of economics believed this.

So here's the White House's new gambit:

The Obama administration proposed broader latitude Friday for religious nonprofits that object to the mandated coverage of contraceptives, one that will allow large faith-based hospitals and universities to issue plans that do not directly provide birth control coverage.

Their employees would instead receive a stand-alone, private insurance policy that would provide contraceptive coverage at no cost.

Under this proposal, objecting nonprofits will be allowed to offer employees a plan that does not cover contraceptives. Their health insurer will then automatically enroll employees in a separate individual policy, which only covers contraceptives, at no cost. This policy would stand apart from the employer’s larger benefit package.

The faith-based employer would not “have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for any contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds.”

Got that? Employees are going to get one policy that is paid for out of employer premiums. Then, they're going to get an entirely separate policy, which covers contraception and nothing else, for free. And if the employer is so inclined, it is welcome to pretend it has nothing to do with the fact that the insurance company with which it has contracted on the employee's behalf is paying for the employee's pills, diaphrams, condoms and whatever else.

This is so absurd I don't even know where to start. Insurance companies don't offer policies for free, at least not in any world I know of. An insane idea like this can only happen because a) the government tried to force a politically motivated requirement into contracts involving unwilling private parties; and b) when this proved untenable, the government had to come up with some phony-baloney way to look like they weren't doing this while, in fact, doing exactly this.

If insurances companies really get stuck offering free contraception-only insurance policies, they're either going to jack up the premiums of the corresponding employers (in which case the dishonesty of this whole thing is proven), or they're going to spread the costs to all businesses, including the ones who willingly accepted contraception coverage in their plans, which means they'll be paying for it twice.

My goodness, ObamaCare sucks. Let parties make the agreements they want to make and stay the hell out of it. If you want insurance to pay for your contraception, and your employer doesn't agree, then go work somewhere else. Or if the job is worth it to you, then accept that you can't get everything you want in life and pay for it yourself. It doesn't even cost that much.

Instead, we have the government forcing completely absurd pretend-solutions to the ridiculous problem it created by sticking its nose into agreements that it shouldn't have anything to do with.

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