WASHINGTON, D.C., February 23, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – When he promulgated his “accommodation” to his unpopular abortifacient birth control mandate, President Barack Obama insisted, “The overall cost of health care is lower when women have access to contraceptive services.” But America’s pharmacists, who dispense the drug, disagree.
Reimbursement Intelligence asked 15 pharmacy directors, representing more than 100 million covered lives, what effect the president’s mandate that insurance companies provide “free” contraceptives would have on their bottom line.
Not a single respondent to the survey thought prices would go down; a plurality believed prices would increase because of the mandate.
In all, 40 percent said the mandate will raise prices; 33 percent are unsure of its effect; 20 percent say it will have no effect, because they already cover contraceptives.
A mere seven percent said it would increase pharmaceutical costs but reduce medical costs.
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One respondent said insurance companies will “need to raise prices, change cost structures, and pass along additional costs to our customers.”
“Of note, none of the respondents thought the mandated coverage would lead to net cost savings by preventing unintended pregnancies – one of the stated objectives for the inclusion of this benefit,” Reimbursement Intelligence observed.
Health insurers, which are reticent about involving themselves in a potentially losing political battle, have quietly criticized the notion that the new proposal helps their bottom line.
A health insurance industry source, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Hill newspaper, “Saying it’s revenue-neutral doesn’t mean it’s free and that you’re not paying for it.” The trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans worries about the “precedent” the mandate sets.
“Pharmacy companies are businesses, and businesses – unlike the federal government – understand that the cost of providing any service has to be paid for by someone,” Dr. Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute, told LifeSiteNews.com. “In this instance, that means the costs of not-so-free contraception will either come out of the insurance companies’ profits (making them wonder why they have to provide this ‘free’ service), or the costs will be passed on to the policy-holders.”
“Birth control pills don’t fall from the sky like manna,” economic writer Sheldon Richman told LifeSiteNews.com.
Insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski estimated insurances plans will “have to front about $360 per person who uses the birth control pill.”
“I have never seen an example of the federal government telling a company they have to provide a service and they are not allowed to charge for it,” he wrote.
The survey called into question the notion that women have limited access to contraceptives under the present insurance structure. All plans in the survey cover oral contraceptives, the contraceptive patch, ring, injections, and the IUD. Only one excluded the morning after pill.
All plans cover general oral contraceptives at an average co-pay of $10. Two-thirds cover brand-name versions of the pill with the patient’s share ranging from $35 to $60.
As well, although the Obama administration claims contraceptives save money by reducing fertility, experts are increasingly taking note of the economic dangers presented by a falling birthrate.
A 1999 United Nations report warned demographic trends in developed countries will cause havoc with “social security schemes, particularly traditional pay-as-you-go systems where current workers pay for the benefits of current retirees.” UN Statistics chief Dr. Joseph Chamie warned ten years ago, “The age of retirement will have to increase. The benefits to the elderly will probably decrease. Taxation for the workers will probably increase.”
Those warnings increasingly apply to the U.S., with its birth rate having dropped below replacement level in 2008.
An aging workforce has been associated with lower investment rates, a loss of human capital, and less mobility, among many other negative factors.