In today’s media there always seems to be a war on something. A war on drugs, a war on terror, and even a war on Christmas! (Check out this clip from the Daily Show for a rundown of all of these “wars”!) Today it seems like journalists and reporters are all talking about one thing: A war on women.
Of course there is no actual war on women; but the term seems to have stuck in the newsroom for any topic regarding women with the Preventative Care Regulation, a part of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
We all know this is a heated topic, but what we might not know exactly why. So in today’s post, we’ll give you the rundown: Just why this is such a hot topic, who is proposing what, and where all the money is going.
What is the Issue?
When the Department of Health and Human Services announced that all employer health plans were to cover contraception and other preventative services for women without co-payments or deductibles with the Preventative Care Regulation, uproar ensued.
What are the conflicting arguments?
- Birth control is often used for “off-label” reasons, such as acne, irregular or painful cycles, hormone imbalances, etc., and so should be covered by health insurance just like any other medicine
- The Preventative Care Regulation also covers cancer screenings, HPV DNA testing, mammograms, and even domestic violence screening and counseling, immunizations, and dietary counseling
- These services are expensive without insurance.
- It should be a woman’s personal right to choose her own method, if any, of birth control
- Originally this plan, announced in January, stated that religiously affiliated employers (Ex: Catholic Universities or hospitals) that provide health insurance to their workers/students would have to fund birth control at no cost. Religious rights advocates argue that this is imposing on religious freedom
- Though Obama revised the plan to require the insurance companies, rather than the employers, to fund coverage, opponents argue that coverage for birth control should not be mandatory, as it is not a medical necessity.
- The Affordable Care Act requires all individuals to be insured by 2014. Opponents argue that nobody should be required to be insured if he/she doesn’t want to be.
This is not only a question of women’s rights to the healthcare they need or want, but also a question of economics.
Emma Davidson, the Program Manager for a group advocating women’s healthcare, says pregnancy prevention alone is worth being covered because of the negative economic consequences associated with unplanned pregnancies.
Just what are those economic consequences?
- $4 Billion: According to a study released by the National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies, unplanned pregnancies total $4 billion a year in direct medical costs alone. This includes only the costs that are associated with the births ($3.9 billion) and miscarriages ($266 million) that result from nearly 3 million unplanned pregnancies each year.
- $12 Billion: A study conducted by the Brookings Institution estimates that American taxpayers spend upwards of $12 billion each year to provide medical care for 1.25 million unintended pregnancies through programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This sum includes $251 million on fetal losses (which are commonly known as miscarriages); roughly $6 billion on births; and another $6 billion on infant medical care.
- $10,000: The average cost per publicly financed unintended pregnancy is nearly $10,000.
- $1,210: The average amount a woman will spend annually on birth control (oral contraceptive) if it is not covered by her insurance
- $4.3 billion: The average amount that Federal and State governments save each year from publicly funded family planning services
- $19 billion: Contraceptive use saves nearly $19 billion in direct medical costs each year
- 10.3 billion: The approximate amount of low-income women who will be newly covered by Medicaid by 2014 with the Affordable Care Act
- The National Business Group on Health reports that most of its 346 members include contraception in their plans because it saves money. Employers who cover birth control (at about $39 per female employee per year) end up saving about $9,000 per female employee in any two-year period compared to those who don’t.
So as you can see, it is an issue of personal rights, it is an issue of politics, it is an issue of values, and it is also an issue of economics.
Where do you stand on the issue?