Secular Right | Reality & Reason



Balkanizing America

Given that the market for health insurance has long since ceased to be a truly free market, this seems broadly sensible and I’d guess it will save money:

Virtually all health insurance plans could soon be required to offer female patients free coverage of prescription birth control, breast-pump rentals, counseling for domestic violence, and annual wellness exams and HIV tests as a result of recommendations released Tuesday by an independent advisory panel of health experts.

I would assume (perhaps naively) that something similar, at least so far as annual preventive checks and HIV checks are concerned, is being required to be offered for men.

Some folks, needless to say, have objected on religious grounds:

Jeanne Monahan, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the socially conservative Family Research Council, said that many Americans may object to birth control on religious grounds. “They should not be forced to have to pay into insurance plans that violate their consciences. Their conscience rights should be protected,” she said.

Oh, good lord.

A blogger over at the Economist goes all Modest Proposal on the Family Research Council, but then makes the most important point:

Being part of America means having some level of tolerance for people’s different preferences without constantly demanding to secede. Once you start down the road of demanding monetary exceptions for your private moral convictions, there’s nowhere to stop.

And not just monetary exceptions…

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  • Matt Foss · July 23, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    From the Economist article: “I don’t want them to be having babies they don’t want, particularly if I have to pay for those babies.”


  • John · July 24, 2011 at 1:15 am

    This is exactly why government should have no say in deciding what health care plans do and don’t offer. If people had the free choice of which plans they wanted with which policies, all of this could be avoided.

    Can you imagine if we bought our cars like this?

    “Well, all cars should have to come with free car seats!”
    “But I don’t have kids, I want a better stereo.”
    “It’s not fair that some cars have air conditioning and some don’t.”


  • RandyB · July 24, 2011 at 11:17 am

    @John, there are many required features of the cars we buy, and standards (usually enforced at the state level) that cars have to meet on an ongoing basis, because the public has a legitimate interest in the safety of your car.

    I’m still conflicted over Universal Health Care for this reason — you can be the most libertarian conservative there is, and you’re still under the protection of the Fire Department; and since you receive the benefit of the Fire Department, can be taxed for it. Our nation’s laws mandate that everyone will get at least emergency room care, so in principle we can force people to pay for it. My concern with a minimum guaranteed care system is that the payment for it ought to be per capita, not progressive by income, and our country’s tax system isn’t set up to enforce such a thing.

    But this FRC objection points out another significant problem with a government mandated system — turning the whole thing into politics. Remember when UHC was being debated and a commission recommended that women lacking specific risk factors only needed mammograms every other year? So a group of Senators introduced an amendment to the plan guaranteeing annual mammograms. That’s the future of ALL our politics under UHC. Any recommendation to save costs through service reductions will be met with demagoguery from the most-affect groups about not caring about them and valuing their lives, and Congress will mandate the higher level of care to prove it’s not something-ist.

  • Handle · July 24, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    A question is why does anyone need “coverage” for birth-control pills? Is fertility more like an appropriately insurable condition or a universal characteristic of health? Should condoms be covered too?

    Health “insurance” (the word is so abused we must now differentiate ‘full’ from ‘catastrophic’ coverage) is supposedly analogous to Homeowner’s insurance. The insurance is there to cover an otherwise unabsorbable shock of expense should a major, unexpected, and unavoidable catastrophe occur, but regular maintenance and even fairly major repairs are up to the insured. If the house gets struck by lightning and burns to the ground, they pay. If you need a new water heater, you pay. If you get skin cancer, they pay. If you get the flu and need some decongestant, you pay.

    It’s a nice rhetorical trick to characterize as “demanding to secede” the expression of opposition to an an unjustified expansion of mandatory economic collectivization. It’s also nice to call for tolerance for “other people’s preferences” to flow one way but not the other. Person A prefers to use birth controls pills while Person B prefers not to. Person B is supposed to tolerate Person A’s preferences, but Person A tells Person B that they need to shut up about it and suck it up. Nice.

  • Polichinello · July 25, 2011 at 12:30 am

    this seems broadly sensible and I’d guess it will save money:

    No, it won’t. The cost of those items will rise with government subsidized demand to undo any potential savings. At any rate, condoms aren’t that expensive. Saying you can’t pay for birth control is like saying you don’t have time to brush your teeth. Anyone needing to have their birth control subsidized should get a free vasectomy or tubal ligation. We’ll just take care of the problem for good right off the bat.

  • Jonathan Campbell · July 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    If it is so likely to save money, wouldn’t the insurance companies figure that on their own, preempting the need to be forced by the govt. to provide these services?

    I don’t believe I get anything for free from my health insurance plan, and it is a good plan.

  • Mike H · July 26, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Whilst socially desirable I don’t think it’s all that good an idea. Once you start to include all sorts of extra in healthcare plans as mandatory because there might be socially desirable effects, well where do you stop?

    As Margaret Thatcher once said I believe, you could spend the whole GDP on healthcare. Except even then you’d probably still have people complaining about something or other being not covered.

  • y81 · July 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    This post is a good illustration of how this site is “all secular, no right.” Any expansion of government spending or regulation is good, and will be justified with the most specious of arguments (the market was already highly regulated, this plan will actually save money in the long run, etc.) if it operates as a thumb in the eye of those filthy Christianists.

  • Susan · July 26, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    This should cause my premiums to shoot up to about $700 a month, even though I have about as much need for a breast pump as I do for a dirigible. And aren’t “annual wellness exams” already covered?

    I think I’ll have a drink.

  • James · July 28, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    “Once you start to include all sorts of extra in healthcare plans as mandatory because there might be socially desirable effects, well where do you stop?”

    With a single payer system of course! 🙂



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