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Mona Charen
Mona Charen
5 Feb 2016
An Open Letter to Jeb Bush

Dear Gov. Bush: There are many ways to express your love of country. One is to serve as president. In your case,… Read More.

27 Jan 2016
What's a Party For?

What is a political party? By the intensity of internecine conflict among Republicans, you might conclude … Read More.

22 Jan 2016
Republican Hemlock Society

"I am not a member of any organized political party," Will Rogers quipped in the last century, "I'm a Democrat." … Read More.

The Free Lunch Is Back


Leaving aside the blatant assault on religious liberty that the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate represents (a number of commentators have ably elucidated the assault on free exercise), the edict ought to offend all sensible Americans for its sheer economic and moral fatuousness.

In this case, "moral" refers to moral hazard, i.e., unintentionally encouraging bad behavior. But first, consider the economic argument the administration has advanced for forcing insurance companies to offer free contraceptives and abortifacients to all women.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained that forcing insurance companies to supply a product for free would actually save the corporations money:

"... This is a no-cost benefit, that the National Business Council on Health, that our actuaries, a variety of people in group plans say having contraception as part of a group insurance plan actually lowers the overall cost, doesn't increase it, because, on balance, preventive services around family planning, avoiding what may be unhealthy pregnancies, avoiding the health consequences of that actually is a cost reducer."

Perhaps Sebelius should become a business consultant. Obviously, the insurance industry was missing a chance to save itself money! But wait, maybe most of the women who will use birth control are already using it and paying for it either out of pocket (a month's worth of condoms is about $15, and generic pills can be had for $9 a month) or through a co-pay. Assuming that this group consists of the vast majority of potential contraceptive users, the insurance company will certainly lose money by providing for free what had previously been paid for.

As for those women who don't now use birth control but will if contraceptives are provided for free, we can guess that their potential "savings" in the form of avoided pregnancies will be very small. Some percentage of these women will have unintended pregnancies anyway, because the reason they didn't use contraceptives was not that they couldn't afford them, but that they were irresponsible.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, only 12 percent of women cited cost or availability as the reason for not using contraception. And even that figure is suspect.

Considering 1) the price of condoms; 2) that Americans spend $110 billion on fast food every year; and 3) that no one who winds up unintentionally pregnant wants to admit that she was careless or stupid, the 12 percent figure deserves skepticism.

In any case, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 53 percent of unintended pregnancies are among women who do use birth control and report "contraceptive failure," which often means failure to use them properly. So Sebelius's fond prediction of insurance companies saving money on all those avoided pregnancies is unsound.

Additionally, when anything is cost free, demand will increase. So insurance companies will be shelling out more money for products that people may use — or may lie fallow in the medicine cabinet. To cover their added expenses, insurance companies will have to raise premiums — until the secretary of HHS decrees that they may not — in which case they will become unprofitable and go belly up. Presumably the HHS secretary will then forbid that as well, becoming King Canute.

The anguished cries of leading Democrats notwithstanding (Barbara Boxer declared that Republicans are trying to "take away women's rights ... (and) their medicine"), pregnancy is not a disease. There are lots of real diseases though, for which medicine probably does save money on net: anti-seizure drugs come to mind, insulin, blood pressure reducing medicines, and blood thinners. Come to think of it, why would a doctor prescribe any drug if not to ward off a serious illness or condition? When drugs reduce the incidence of serious diseases, it's good for everyone, not least the patient himself. By the logic of the Obama administration, all drugs that reduce illnesses should be provided "free" by insurance companies. Before you knew it, insurance companies would be making so much money by providing free drugs that they'd be able to provide all other services for free as well. Poof! There is the solution to our health care crisis.

This is the governing philosophy of the Democratic Party - top-down mandates, "cramdowns" of renegotiated mortgages, creating an infinite cornucopia of newly discovered "rights" like the right to birth control, forcing individuals to purchase private products, and forcing private companies to supply products free of charge. This is the world that Democrats build. It's misconceived, uneconomic, unconstitutional and doomed to failure.

It isn't just Obamacare that must be repealed, it's Obamaism.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
Not all medications prescribed "preventitively" save money. Some drugs do not produce the results claimed and have side-effects that are not recognized but cost money and suffering. If one looks objectivelty at cholesterol miedications, for example, the whole claimed benefits don't hold up and the costs are horrendous. Had i continued to take them, not only is there no statistical mortality benefits for women, but I would be crippled by the muscle damage I was beginning to suffer and wouln't be able to work because of memory loss. I had a friend my own age who did retire as disabled for exactly these results.
I am also concerned that Obamacare will restrict treatments to those currently fashionable with drug companies without giving people access to better and more economical alternatives. Yesterday I had a doctor give me what I thought was a questionalble diagnosis, and upon researching, discovered that their diagnosis was based on conditions I do not have. What if I had no treatment alternatives? That may happen...
Comment: #1
Posted by: partsmom
Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:02 PM
March 09, 2011 Reuters
Year's Supply of Birth Control: Limits on Birth Control Pills May Be Costly
A study found that only 1% of lower-income California women who got a year's supply of the Pill had unplanned pregnancies compared to 3% of those women who got only enough packages for one or three months at a time.
Currently private and public health insurance plans in the U.S. generally limit how many months' worth of birth control pills can be prescribed at once.
August 11, 2011 Alternet
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reports "For the fourth consecutive year, access to female condoms has increased dramatically, reaching a record number of 50 million... in 2009."
Governments and technical agencies have worked in partnership on the Female Condom Initiative launched in 2005 in 24 countries to ensure that female condom programming was integral to national AIDS policies and reproductive health programs.
The female condom has turned out to be a tool for women's empowerment, enabling women and adolescent girls to take the initiative to protect their own and their partners' health
Comment: #2
Posted by: demecra zydeem
Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:18 PM
Many women do not know that different contraceptive methods can bring major health benefits. Women with heavy periods or endometriosis can benefit from the hormonal coil, which makes periods lighter, shorter or stop. The combined Pill can help alleviate heavy, painful periods as well as alleviate PMS. Acne, hirsutism or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be helped with the Combined Pill containing anti-androgenic progestogen. Yasmin is the best product for mild symptoms, while Dianette is suitable for the more severe disorders. There are claims that the contraceptive ring (Nuva ring self-inserted in the vagina monthly), improves blood flow to genital areas, thereby boosting libido. A handful of studies also suggest that contraceptive Pills with lower levels of progestogen boost mood and prevent vaginal dryness
U.S.: IUDs, Implants Advocated for Birth Control
June 21, 2011 Reuters
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reports that IUDs (intrauterine devices) and contraceptive skin implants are the most effective type of reversible contraceptive, and should be offered as options to most women seeking birth control.
Morning-After Pill May Be OK for Non-Emergency Use
March 07, 2011 Reuters
A new report published in Obstetrics and Gynecology say the morning-after pill may be safe and effective as a regular birth control method, comparing favorably with condoms and spermicides in terms of reported rates of unwanted pregnancies. However, it is only approved as an emergency backup after unprotected sex, and the government discourages using it as regular contraception.
Women who have sex infrequently, or for some other reason, may not want to use a regular birth control method and would prefer to use the morning-after pill just before or after the infrequent sex.
The morning-after pill is not as effective as methods women use on a longer basis, such as patches or regular birth control pills, but women using pill around the time they had sex have an estimated 5% chance of getting pregnant over one year, compared to 16% of women whose partner used a condom.
In the U.S., the morning-after pill costs between $10 and $70 and is available over the counter for people over 17. Most morning-after pills (brands include Plan B One
Comment: #3
Posted by: demecra zydeem
Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:27 PM
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