Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Saturday, March 03, 2012 :::

One of the key ideas behind Obamacare was that unlike people who select among insurance plans, the government would be able to reduce expenses by saying no to coverage of medical expenses that aren't important enough to justify their costs. There might be some political pressure to require coverage for more goods and services than are justified because each individual good/service has producers and consumers lobbying in its favor while the cost of each individual good/service would be dispersed, but a board of independent-minded bureaucrats would be able to make dispassionate decisions and the political branches of government would, ultimately, back them up.

Last month, HHS decided that all health insurance plans would have to cover contraception. Based on the numbers I've seen for how much this would save people, I assume the mandate is for the user's choice of contraception (Rush Limbaugh seems to assume that it just means going through a lot of condoms, but I don't think that's right). This week the Senate voted on a bill to provide a religious exemption from the mandate to a handful of insurance programs. One possible objection to such a bill is that this particular exemption shouldn't exist, but that the mandate shouldn't either, but that line of argument wasn't heavily used - I'm pretty sure the bill's opponents in the Senate all believe that providing everyone with whatever form of contraception they prefer without paying any of the cost (more precisely: any more of the cost than any other member of society) is too important to let anyone fall through the cracks - especially members of the oppressed classes of society, like Georgetown Law students. Those opponents constitute a majority - the bill failed.

So, is our political system going to provide everyone the best contraception money can buy but deny people risky and expensive but potentially life-saving procedures? Or will cost control be a farce? I'm not sure which answer I like less.

Extra thoughts
  • "Both" is perfectly reasonable answer.
  • A lot of medical spending is on old people, who are politically active, which leads me to expect that, like LBJ's entitlements, this will cost a lot more than it is supposed to.
  • Will providing free hormonal contraception cause promiscuous people to use fewer condoms and increase the spread of STDs? Or will it not matter, because people who are that irresponsible are already too irresponsible to use condoms?


::: posted by Steven at 12:20 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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