Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius is out celebrating the arrival of August 1, and all the new mandates that go into effect on that day, which will change how our health-care system operates. 

The press statement reads a little like a too-good-to-be-true credit-card offer: Access to all sorts of life-saving, preventive care and contraception will be yours “free of charge.”  The secretary cheers that an estimated 47 million women will be affected by these new provisions and showered with these free services. 

 Of course, the fine print that the Secretary studiously avoids mentioning is that none of this health care is actually free. Consumers of those services may not be directly hit with a bill, but they’ll end up paying for them in other ways, primarily through higher insurance premiums. 

Data confirms this common sense: States with more mandates for what insurance packages must contain generally have higher premium costs. As a result, even the chief architect of Obamacare now acknowledges that Americans can expect their health-insurance premiums to rise, not fall, as Obamacare’s avalanche of regulations kicks in.   

Secretary Sebelius pretends that this massive expansion of government is somehow a triumph for individual choice: “This law puts women and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, in charge of health-care decisions.” Yet the government is absolutely in charge of our health-care system, and the new “choices” that women will enjoy leave others with no choice but to pick up the tab.      

If the administration nationalized all grocery stores, they could also write that their new effort would put “people, not grocery store executives and the government, in charge of what they eat.” Yet few would see that as a triumph for individual freedom and responsibility, or fail to understand that all the steak and lobsters would be far from free.  

It’s insulting (but entirely predictable) that women are the target for HHS’s campaign celebrating the new health-care mandates. The Secretary is banking on women being blinded by the idea of “free” birth control and mammograms so they won’t recognize that the price we pay — primarily, the loss of a free, dynamic, innovative health-care system — is actually going to be quite steep.