August 1 2011
Nothing Comes for Free
FoxNews.com reports that the Obama administration announced today that private health insurance companies must provide birth control and a variety of other women's health services "without cost-sharing" to all female beneficiaries.
As of January 1, 2013, companies will be required to cover not just contraception, but also well-woman visits, screenings for gestational diabetes, HPV DNA testing for women 30 years and older, STD counseling, HIV screening and counseling, breastfeeding support, and domestic violence screening.
I just wrote about this appalling new law for The Hill newspaper last week (and Carrie wrote about it here for the Inkwell).
I could not disagree more with the Obama administration on this. A successful healthcare system is one that allows for the greatest freedom of choice. These requirements do just the opposite. They discourage individual involvement and control over healthcare decisions - and they do so at the cost of all insurance beneficiaries.
What too often is left out of the conversation is that these services don't actually come for free. Health insurers will simply shift the cost of doing business to other customers. Instead of women who may require those specific services making the decision to use and pay for those services, companies will ask someone else to pay for it. This, of course, is why the Affordable Care Act has to have an individual mandate.
Any system that provides a good or service for "free" is unsustainable. Ultimately a policy like this will result in patients having fewer choices, a decline in quality of care and an increase in costs for all.
There are serious unintended consequences that come from policies like these -- namely what this means for freedom and our economy. Too often women try to negotiate specific advantages for themselves, but they forget that nothing is completely free.