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InsiderOnline Blog: February 2012

Needing Contraception Is Not an Insurable Event

You don’t need insurance to obtain contraception or abortion-inducing drugs—a fact that would be plenty obvious if the tax code had not corrupted our sense of what insurance is, explains Sheldon Richman (“Contraception: Insuring the Uninsurable,” The Freeman, February 10, 2012):

Weirdly, some say the [HHS contraception mandate] actually affirms religious freedom. How so? Sens. Barbara Boxer, Jeanne Shaheen, and Patty Murray explained in the Wall Street Journal: “[T]he millions of American women who choose to use contraception should not be forced to follow religious doctrine, whether Catholic or non-Catholic.”

In other words, lack of insurance coverage for contraception is equivalent to being forced not to use contraception. […]

It shouldn’t be necessary to point this out, but coming of child-bearing age and choosing to use contraception is not an insurable event. It’s a volitional act. It may have good consequences for the person taking the action and society at large, but it is still a volitional act. It makes no sense to talk about insuring against the eventuality that a particular person will use contraception. Strictly speaking, contraception has nothing to do with insurance.

Unfortunately, we don’t speak strictly about health insurance. One reason we don’t is the tax code. Since World War II compensation for labor in the form of employment-based health insurance does not count as taxable income. (Money spent independently on health insurance does count.) The tax code thus creates perverse incentives to 1) depend on one’s employer for medical insurance, 2) shift income from liquid cash to restricted insurance benefits, and 3) define uninsurable events as insurable. Would someone care to explain how well-baby care can be insurable? […]

In the medical realm insurance no long means insurance.

Instead it’s a game by which we get other people to pay for stuff.

Posted on 02/16/12 03:52 PM by Alex Adrianson

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