WASHINGTON, D.C., February 10, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Regardless of whether President Obama’s new health care “accommodation” satisfies the First Amendment’s freedom of religion, experts tell LifeSiteNews.com that it defies the laws of economics. One observer warns that insurance companies may charge religious institutions higher fees to compensate for the law’s new stipulations.
Barack Obama announced two new principles as part of his revised policy requiring religious groups other than churches to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. “Religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception,” he said, and “insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.”
Several economic experts responded to the “accommodation” by telling LifeSiteNews the same thing: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Sheldon Richman, editor of the Foundation for Economic Education‘s journal The Freeman, told LifeSiteNews.com that when he heard President Obama say neither employers nor employees will not pay for the drugs, “I wanted to scream at the TV, ‘Then who will?’ Somebody’s got to pay for it. Birth control pills don’t fall out of the sky like manna.”
Obama “insults our intelligence by not even addressing the point,” Richman said. Insurance companies are “not simply going to absorb the cost.”
Dr. Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute, wrote in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com, “Someone has to pay. And it would be entirely reasonable – and very probable – for the insurance companies to simply charge religious institutions extra for their overall insurance policies in order to cover their not-so-free costs.”
Richman said if Obama chooses not to levy an additional cost on religious institutions, health insurance companies “will increase everybody else’s premium, so the cost will be shifted from the Catholic institution to everyone else who has to buy health insurance.”
Others agreed that the new plan may leave taxpayers on the hook.
“Ultimately, given the socialization of a large part of the health insurance costs nationally, it will be taxpayers paying for it,” Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told LifeSiteNews.com. “For those who do not qualify for the [government insurance] subsidy, they will absolutely be paying higher insurance premiums – not just because of this mandate but because of all the mandated coverages that are already in the law.”
The accommodation will not be implemented until after the presidential election.
Asked about whether the “free” care would increase consumer costs, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Fox News this afternoon, “What we now have is oversight from the Department of Health and Human Services looking at insurance rates…so we’ll be watching this carefully.”
If HHS is attempting to hold down costs, “we’ll get the same results we get from any price controls,” Richman said. “There will be fewer insurers,” which “puts upward pressure on premiums, if you have fewer providers in the market but demand is the same.”
“The laws of economics are like the law of gravity. They may take a little longer for the consequences to set in, but they do set in,” Richman told LifeSiteNews. “If we pretend they’re not there, then we’re going to see scarcities and other problems.”
In a blog post earlier in the day, Richman blogged that insurance is supposed to share the burdens of unforeseen calamities. Birth control, which is “a volitional act,” does not qualify. The mandate simply feeds the perception that if the government does not provide a good or service, access is being denied.
Barack Obama, who expressed his support for a single-payer health care plan before being elected president, could use rising premiums as leverage to nudge the nation’s health care industry toward a government-run system. “They come out the winner no matter what,” Richman said.
Many critics have noted, since money is fungible, religious organizations will still be compelled to pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs through another mechanism.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, “this new proposal still requires religious entities that are not exempt as a church to subsidize and pay insurance companies so they can give free birth control to their employees. However, it won’t be free, because the insurance companies will increase the premium and administrative costs to the employer.”
Dr. Gregg told LifeSiteNews.com, “No amount of rationalization (of which we will surely hear plenty in forthcoming days from the usual suspects) can disguise the fact that indirect payment for these services would fall into the areas of either what the Church calls formal cooperation in evil or direct material cooperation in evil.”
“It’s apparent from the details of the administration’s HHS compromise that they understand neither the economics of healthcare nor the import of Catholic moral teaching on these subjects.”
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