On the Birth Control Mandate

The US Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules regarding an Obamacare birth control mandate.

According to CNN:

The rules would let a broad range of employers — including nonprofits, private firms and publicly traded companies — stop offering contraceptives through their health insurance plans if they have a “sincerely held religious or moral objection,” senior agency officials said on a call about the implementation and enforcement of the new rules.

Republicans want to make this about religious freedom while Democrats want to make this a women’s issue. Naturally, both parties miss the mark. I want to make this an issue of economics and property rights, two things both parties tend to ignore.

Again, from CNN:

The ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday. The organization’s senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri called the administration’s rules “blatantly unconstitutional.”

I’m not so sure the Obamacare mandates were constitutional in the first place! How can it be constitutional to force employers to cover their employee’s health insurance? This is a blatant violation of property rights. Just as I can’t force my neighbor to pay for my health care, neither should the government be able to force people to pay for other’s health care.

Of course, these new rules alarmed many women who have been getting birth control paid for by their employer through insurance. They would have been better off paying out of pocket for their own birth control all along. When a good or service is provided through insurance rather than paying out of pocket, the consumer is less worried about the cost of that good or service. Because insurance companies are covering the costs instead of individuals themselves, drug companies and other health care providers can increase prices. I would expect that the cost of birth control has increased since the mandate took effect. The increase in demand due to the mandate would surely continue to increase prices as more and more women gained access to insurance-covered birth control. So, any women who lose their insurance coverage for birth control will likely pay more out of pocket than if the mandate was never implemented.

The Trump administration is doing a good thing by changing the rules to accommodate for religious freedom. However, the mandate should be completely repealed and everyone should be exempt from being forced to provide insurance for anyone. This would be a start toward dismantling the regulatory monstrosity that is the US health care system.

More liberty is a good thing. If women wish to be free to choose, then they should respect their employer’s right to choose what insurance plan, if any, to provide as a benefit. I mean, nothing says independence and equality like using the state to force your employer to pay for birth control, right?

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