Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another Illogical Obamacare “Celebration”

Various press reports indicate that the Administration and liberals are “celebrating” two provisions of Obamacare taking effect today – the law’s medical loss ratio rebates, and the mandate forcing religious employers to violate their consciences and provide contraception coverage.  There’s only one catch: These two provisions are inherently contradictory.

The Washington Post this morning notes that the contraception employers will be forced to cover does not come without a cost:

Contraceptives won’t cost patients, but that doesn’t make them free.  Pharmaceutical companies are not handing contraceptives out to doctors offices’ without sending insurance companies a bill, too.  Health plans ultimately end up paying the cost for any increased use of contraceptives.  The [pro-choice] Guttmacher Institute estimated in a 1998 paper that adding contraceptive coverage would cost $21.40 per person per year in extra health insurance spending.

These statements explain why the Administration’s “accommodation” to religious employers – forcing insurers to pay for contraception themselves – was a meaningless shell game.  After all, if the supposedly “greedy” insurance companies thought “free” contraception would actually lower their health costs and raise their profits, why haven’t insurers been giving patients “free” contraception all along?

At the same time the Administration is celebrating medical loss ratio rebates that it claims will lower premiums, the Administration’s new benefit mandates are raising premiums.  It doesn’t make much sense to highlight insurers issuing $1.51 rebate checks if another mandate also taking effect today will cost more than 14 times that amount (i.e., $21.40 per year).

So today’s celebrations by HHS and Congressional Democrats are inherently illogical.  Then again, given what the American people think about Obamacare, practically any celebration of the massive 2700-page measure would be illogical to start with.