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Obama caves to religious pressure on birth control debate

Atheist feminist rage activated:

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the proposal would guarantee free coverage of birth control “while respecting religious concerns.”

Churches and religious organizations that object to providing birth control coverage on religious grounds would not have to pay for it.

Under the proposal, female employees could get free birth control coverage through a separate plan that would be provided by a health insurer. The institution objecting to the coverage would not pay for the contraceptives. The costs would instead be paid by the insurance company, with the possibility of recouping the costs through lower health care expenses resulting in part from fewer births.

Sigh.

Look, I know that in the grand scheme of things, women will still receive their free birth control even if their employers decide its their prerogative to force their religious beliefs on their employees. At least the Obama administration hasn’t completely fucked over women in this situation.

But it’s the principle of the matter. Religious organizations should not receive special privileges from the government since that explicitly violates the first amendment. These religious organizations love to cry that they’re the ones defended by the first amendment, but that’s false. If you’re religious and your health insurance covers birth control, no one is forcing you to use that birth control. If an employer doesn’t want their employees using birth control, tough shit. You don’t get to enforce your religious beliefs on others.

The only reason this is even a debate is because Catholics make up a substantial part of the US population so they’re able to cause a bigger stink. If a Jehovah’s Witness employer wanted to ban all of their employees from ever receiving blood transfusions, would Obama have caved? If a Muslim employer decides you can’t spend any of your paycheck on pork products, would that have been okay? Religious organizations should have to pay for birth control coverage just like every other organization instead of receiving special privileges. Instead, religious organizations threw a temper tantrum and Obama responded by buying them metaphorical ice cream.

Comments

  1. Brian says

    If a Jehovah’s Witness employer wanted to ban all of their employees from ever receiving blood transfusions, would Obama have caved?

    We need to get someone in Congress to push this. What a stink that would raise.

  2. says

    Neil @2: Yes, it sounds like sophistry. The policy provided by the employer does not need to include birth control. But the employee can apply for and get an absolutely free second policy that does cover the birth control, without employer involvement. Of course, that doesn’t really solve the issue for the crazy-christian employer, whose goal is to impose its religious views on all its employees.

  3. Benjamin says

    Metaphorical ice cream sounds like a delicious turn of phrase. Does it come with a virtual waffle cone?

  4. trucreep says

    “These religious organizations love to cry that they’re the ones defended by the first amendment, but that’s false.”

    I thought that was tru.

    “If a Jehovah’s Witness employer wanted to ban all of their employees from ever receiving blood transfusions, would Obama have caved? If a Muslim employer decides you can’t spend any of your paycheck on pork products, would that have been okay?”

    I think the difference in these examples is that both are a person’s employer not allowing him/her something directly. If these joykz were saying “you can’t use birth control” then they’d match up I think. I’m just trying to imagine what a lawyer or someone would say is all.

    I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s fucked up. What’s especially annoying is a place like Hobby Lobby haha just blatantly not understanding contraception (“we BELIEVE contraception causes abortions!”) – but bleh the President definitely is doing some calculating on this. It’s crazy but sadly what we’ve come to.

  5. PDX_Greg says

    Wow, you are really back! Two topical blog posts in two days! Yes! Maybe there is a God after all!

    Seriously, glad to have you back in any capacity, and REALLY glad to see you on your deliciously lathery soapbox! And yes, you are going to get tired of seeing these kinds of comments from everyone, but its not our fault we felt a huge void when you took your understandable leave and its definitely not our fault that we’re happy you are back!

  6. sambarge says

    This is insanity.

    Are men employed by these organizations allowed to get vasectomies or Viagra through their health plans?

  7. Tim says

    “I think the difference in these examples is that both are a person’s employer not allowing him/her something directly.”

    That difference may be there, but it’s not hard to adjust the examples to make the same point. Say the Jehovah’s Witness employer refused to provide health insurance that covers transfusions. Say a Christian Scientist employer refused to supply health insurance at all. It’s unlikely they’d get the same special treatment the Catholics are getting. This isn’t being done out of respect for religious beliefs. It’s being done out of fear of a large enough voting bloc.

  8. trucreep says

    “This isn’t being done out of respect for religious beliefs. It’s being done out of fear of a large enough voting bloc.”

    Amen

  9. RunningDogs says

    “If an employer doesn’t want their employees using birth control, tough shit. You don’t get to enforce your religious beliefs on others.”

    You’re confused. The issue is whether these employers are forced to pay for employee birth control, not whether employees have the right to use it. Requoting your quote:

    “The costs would instead be paid by the insurance company … ” which actually means that the costs will be spread to other taxpayers.

  10. schweinhundt says

    You don’t get to enforce your religious beliefs on others.

    Actually, according to the Supreme Court, religious institutions generally do get to do that to any employees they have. A couple of links for a recent case resulting in a UNANIMOUS decision:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2011/1003/The-Supreme-Court-and-the-ministerial-exception

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosanna-Tabor_Evangelical_Lutheran_Church_and_School_v._Equal_Employment_Opportunity_Commission

    Most likely, the requirement for churches, religious school, etc. to pay for contraceptives would have been struck down by the courts. Now, whether or not private companies w/religious owners (e.g. Hobby Lobby) can opt out is a different issue. I suspect (and hope) the courts will rule against them but we’ll have to wait and see.

  11. AsqJames says

    “These religious organizations love to cry that they’re the ones defended by the first amendment, but that’s false.”

    I thought that was tru.

    I might be wrong, but I think Jen meant individuals are protected by the first amendment from both the government and religious organizations. It’s not the other way around.

    “If a Jehovah’s Witness employer wanted to ban all of their employees from ever receiving blood transfusions, would Obama have caved? If a Muslim employer decides you can’t spend any of your paycheck on pork products, would that have been okay?”

    I think the difference in these examples is that both are a person’s employer not allowing him/her something directly. If these joykz were saying “you can’t use birth control” then they’d match up I think. I’m just trying to imagine what a lawyer or someone would say is all.

    OK, the pork one is a bit of a stretch, but the JW analogy is directly applicable as it relates to health care. Maybe it should have been worded as “If a Jehovah’s Witness employer wanted to opt out of covering blood transfusions in any health plan offered to their employees, would Obama have caved?”

    Make sense now?

  12. cag says

    Perhaps the actuaries at the insurance companies will figure out that it is more expensive to deny birth control and set their rates accordingly.

  13. glodson says

    I know I was bad about turning a blind eye to the unwarranted respect we, as a culture by large, pay to religious sensibilities back when I was a believer. I have always been a liberal person, a big believer in gay rights for example. But because of the blinders of faith, I would rationalize why people should respect the religious beliefs of others, even though I had to have recognized that this was just fucking stupid.

    It is amazing how faith can blind a person. Cognitive dissonance, it is a way of life for the liberal christian.

    But the problem I have with the “logic” that some use to say that a company run by a religious group has some say in what medicines a woman gets is that we don’t like a company have a say in how we use our other forms of compensation. Insurance is a benefit, given to an employee as compensation for work. A catholic university couldn’t tell the people who work for it that they can’t buy condoms, for example. A company can’t tell us how to spend our vacation days, or sick days. But for some reason, this form of compensation is supposed to have hooks in it? Bullshit.

    I wouldn’t say that it is just that Catholics make up a decent proportion of the population. It is it more a function that this is Obamacare, which is now socialism even though it is largely a GOP from about 20 years ago. But Obama did it, so any reason to fight it is enough. And it is the same stupid blindness that effected me. Because this is a Christian religion and contraception(which some see as contributing to immorality for fucking dumb reasons), many other christians are showing concern. But they think it is naughty, and why should they pay for it if their magical sky wizard says it is naughty(even though most catholics seem to think contraception is pretty cool). But the leaders, and heads of companies, make a stink. The catholic leaders because they love to just push rules, and the company heads because they are cheap.

    Really, Obama should have just told these people to fuck off, metaphorically.

    Well, it is his last term, so maybe he should have said that literally.

  14. says

    which actually means that the costs will be spread to other taxpayers.

    And taxpayer funding for contraception, a public good, is bad…. How?

  15. RunningDogs says

    shockna,

    “And taxpayer funding for contraception, a public good, is bad…. How?”

    My point is that women are not being “forced” to buy their own pills, which means that leftists are getting most of what they want. Why is this a rage-inducing capitulation by Obama? Obama has made a lot of compromises with unions, et al on the ACA; this is a teeny one by comparison. Do you even have any idea how much money the pro-lifers are saving with this deal?

    The people I’ve read who view “free” contraception as a public good claim that it’s so because it means that fewer women with low-IQ will have children, leading to a smarter population. Is this your claim?

  16. asonge says

    Some facts: This is basically a reframe of the issue. Plans with birth control are almost always cheaper, even with the most expensive IUD procedures. I did some math based on the figures in a paper done by the Gutmacher Institute, and if birth control prevents 1 unwanted pregnancy out of 200 policies, the insurance company breaks even just on the pregnancy hospital bills alone. So now, actually, those who want to cut the contraception coverage will see their rates go up because they simply have to pay for all those unwanted pregnancies. This is a compromise on paper only.

    That said, I do support more latitude for those who buy insurance who require all their staff to sign statements of faith (this would include churches and very specific religious institutions), who are already required by their employment to the behavior they don’t want to “pay for”.

  17. RunningDogs says

    asonge,

    “So now, actually, those who want to cut the contraception coverage will see their rates go up because they simply have to pay for all those unwanted pregnancies.”

    No, because Obama is forcing the insurance companies to cover b.c. with a separate plan. This will undoubtedly be paid for by other policyholders and taxpayers.

  18. says

    It seems like religion comes with a ‘don’t understand the the pool of risk’ gland. Dog-damn these people piss me off. I want to make some sort of witty and eloquent response, but I’m just burnt out. I’m grateful I don’t have a daughter: and that’s a horrific sentiment to have.

  19. AsqJames says

    The people I’ve read who view “free” contraception as a public good claim that it’s so because it means that fewer women with low-IQ will have children, leading to a smarter population. Is this your claim?

    I have never seen that used as an argument in favour of widening access to contraception. In fact it makes no sense whatsoever. Allowing women to control their fertility increases their access to education, increases their economic potential, and allows them to have fewer children and invest more of their resources in each one. All of which contribute to a smarter, more capable, better educated next generation.

    “So now, actually, those who want to cut the contraception coverage will see their rates go up because they simply have to pay for all those unwanted pregnancies.”

    No, because Obama is forcing the insurance companies to cover b.c. with a separate plan. This will undoubtedly be paid for by other policyholders and taxpayers.

    Covering contraception is cheaper than covering pregnancy, birth and childhood. The insurance companies don’t need or want to charge anybody anything extra for covering it because they know it will save them money.

    The only way insurance rates will be comparatively higher for those organisations who claim this religious exception is if claiming the exception (and thus forcing your employees to do additional work applying for the parallel coverage) means fewer employees have birth control coverage. If (perhaps due to the publicity) more employees take it up and use contraception, the insurers for those organisations will actually have lower costs and thus may offer lower rates.

  20. RunningDogs says

    AsqJames,

    “I have never seen that used as an argument in favour of widening access to contraception. In fact it makes no sense whatsoever.”

    The reasoning was that b.c. is so cheap and easy to get that it’s only women with very high time preference or very low IQ who can’t figure out how to get it. I mean the pill is $9 a month at Target! IQ is largely heritable. So giving b.c. to every woman is a good way to raise IQ (high average IQ being a social good) because high IQ females already use b.c. enough that they have children at lower than replacement rate.

  21. says

    The issue is whether these employers are forced to pay for employee birth control, not whether employees have the right to use it.

    False. That is not the argument. The insurance the employee gets is part of HER compensation package. The company has no more right to determine what is in that insurance package than they have to tell her that she cannot use any funds disbursed through her actual paycheck to purchase birth control. It is only because the employer is acting basically as a facilitator for group purchases between their employees and the insurance companies that the employer even knows what is in the employee’s health insurance package.

    Also, please show me the spot in the Bible where it says, “Thou shalt prohibit thine employees from flouting the Lord thy God’s rules, regardless of whether they believe in God or not.”

    We’d all be so much better off if we’d just gone for a single payer Medicare-for-all national health care system in the first place. This is utterly ridiculous.

    And then there’s this, which is even more ridiculous:

    The reasoning was that b.c. is so cheap and easy to get that it’s only women with very high time preference

    What does “high time preference” even mean?

    or very low IQ who can’t figure out how to get it.

    If you aren’t capable of going to a doctor for a regular GYN checkup then odds are you aren’t capable of living on your own and you have a caretaker or are in an institution and hopefully those responsible people will take care of it. *rolls eyes* Is this really one of those “bitches be stupid” moments? How come nobody is concerned that the widespread availability of condoms will lead to an increase of the fatally clumsy as a proportion of the population?

    I mean the pill is $9 a month at Target!

    Buh? Since when? Who told you that? I mean, mine are free, but that’s because I’m on Medicaid and I certainly can’t get them anywhere but at a pharmacy. Does Target have pharmacies now? Honest question, there’s no Target in my areas.

    IQ is largely heritable.

    This is not true.

    So giving b.c. to every woman is a good way to raise IQ (high average IQ being a social good) because high IQ females already use b.c. enough that they have children at lower than replacement rate.

    Just shut up and stop embarrassing yourself. Or, if you’re “just relaying what someone else told you,” stop embarrassing THEM in absentia. I mean really, if a decline in human intelligence is your concern, then you should think about ways to bring back predator pressure on human population, thereby ensuring that the truly dumb do get weeded out, rather than fretting about stupid women having stupid babies.

    Nothing like a discussion about birth control to bring out the latent misogynist eugenicist in people, eh?

  22. Benjamin says

    RunningDogs,
    Planned parenthood
    says $15-$50 a month which is not nothing (up to $600/year) if you are living paycheck to paycheck (and that is a lot of us these days). And not counting doctor’s visit if you are uninsured.

    Many people of different abilities have trouble getting birth control, especially a young person in a conservative/religious family and/or abusive relationship.

    IQ has a high heritability, but intelligence is not IQ. And yes intelligence has a heritable component but it is one of those traits that is influenced by 100s of genes and highly influenced by the environment like say height. I’m not sure what you are going for if you are accusing people here of being eugenicists and then showing sympathy for that idea? If you could use your eugenicist magic wand and get higher IQ I don’t think you would have a better functioning society. I believe people being ethical is more important.

    In summary I disagree with all your points.

  23. RunningDogs says

    Benjamin,

    “says $15-$50 a month which is not nothing (up to $600/year) if you are living paycheck to paycheck (and that is a lot of us these days). And not counting doctor’s visit if you are uninsured.”

    See what I mean? Chump change. So cheap that it’s nearly free. Eschew one small purchase a month and it’s paid for. Only the most helpless or impulsive women in America are unable to pay.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_ave_iq-education-average-iq

  24. sambarge says

    This a ridiculous discussion. Perscribed birth control is part of a woman’s health care ergo it should be covered by the health care plan that a woman earns by working or that a woman’s legal partner earns through work in the case of family coverage. An employer has no right – morally or legally – to interfere with the health care of their workers.

    Running Dogs may feel that it’s not an expensive endeavour to maintain a perscription. Lucky for Running Dog. Of course it leaves the question unanswered:

    Why should a woman, who earns health insurance through her employment, be forced to forgo any monthly purchases to pay for birth control that is legally and medically perscribed?

    I have never been so happy to come from country that settled this moronic health care debate over 40 yrs ago. I genuinely do not understand the sort of fuckery that so many Americans seem to believe.

  25. Nepenthe says

    @26

    600 dollars a year for the pill itself, plus 250 dollars for the required doctor’s appointment and pelvic in order to get the prescription is more than 2 months rent for me and I don’t live in an expensive area.

    You suck at math. Also at empathy.

  26. PatrickG says

    See what I mean? Chump change. So cheap that it’s nearly free. Eschew one small purchase a month and it’s paid for. Only the most helpless or impulsive women in America are unable to pay.

    The staggering insensitivity of this statement is making my head spin. I’m going to guess that you have a stable income, and you’re really not thinking of what it’s like for people who don’t. You’re also woefully out of touch if you think as much as $600/yr + uninsured prescription access is “chump change”.

    News flash: a lot of women in America may very well fit into your “helpless” category.

    Here, try looking at some data. BLS reports that 5,682,000 women are unemployed, for a whopping 7.8% unemployment rate. If you count women not in the labor market, that number goes up significantly, to 53,916,000.

    So way to go! You just told almost 54 million women to go fuck themselves. Or, more charitably, you told almost 6 million women who can’t find work and thus probably don’t have income to just tighten their belt and suck it up.

    Now, we could go even further and look at the women who are barely making ends meet on subsistence-level wages. Would you recommend they cut back on food? transportation costs? housing? other medical care? A lot of women might even have children (shocking hypothesis right there), so why not just cut out those school expenses, clothing, and hey wait, even more food and medical care.

    Your argument basically comes down to: don’t impulsively buy that pair of shoes, laydeez, and you can afford a single element of basic health care!

    Perhaps you should recalibrate your arguments, you unregenerate simulacrum of a human being lacking anything resembling basic empathy, decency, or humanity. In short: do fuck off.

    P.S. Welcome back Jen!

  27. carlie says

    Maybe all the men working for all those “no contraception in your coverage” religious companies should be charged extra for their insurance, to help cover the cost of the extra healthcare incurred in raising all the extra children. Sounds fair, no?

  28. AsqJames says

    @Running Dogs,

    The people I’ve read who view “free” contraception as a public good claim that it’s so because it means that fewer women with low-IQ will have children, leading to a smarter population.

    The reasoning was that b.c. is so cheap and easy to get that it’s only women with very high time preference or very low IQ who can’t figure out how to get it.

    Genuine questions: Where have you read that claim? Who has piled such faulty “reasoning” on top of such incorrect premises?

    I’d love to see such stupidity in its natural habitat, but I suspect you’ll be unable to provide a source for it. It sounds very much like a straw-man argument torn to shreds on a right wing blog somewhere. Prove me wrong?

  29. blitzgal says

    The cost is immaterial. What we have here is a vocal religious minority telling women that a basic health care service that 95% of us use is in a separate class from all other health care, and more than that, that it is morally repugnant. And our government is legitimizing that ridiculous claim. There is nothing morally repugnant about family planning. There is nothing morally repugnant about sex. And we cannot let these theocratic zealots define it as such.

    Over 90% of Catholic women in the United States have used birth control. We’re letting these bastards try to re-litigate something that has been settled for decades. Women use birth control, period. It is standard health care. There is absolutely NO REASON for insurance companies to refuse to cover it.

  30. PatrickG says

    @ blitzgal:

    While I absolutely agree with the rest of your statement…

    The cost is immaterial.

    Except, here we have a real-live example of how the cost really just doesn’t matter (/snark), and such argument in service of the rest of your excellent comment.

  31. RunningDogs says

    sambarge,

    “An employer has no right – morally or legally – to interfere with the health care of their workers.”

    The model of employer-pays-for-health-payment-plan is idiotic and guaranteed to lead to much worse outcomes than this trifle. Prominent leftists like Ezra Klein have long said this. I don’t know what’s supposed to be moral about tying health care so tightly to employment.

    What country is it that ‘settled the debate’ 40 years ago? Many European countries are making giant cuts to healthcare outlays and the debates are heating up. Most leftists believe that nationalizing an industry fixes the industry. This is uninformed thinking.

  32. RunningDogs says

    Nepenthe,

    You’re acting as if the worst case scenario is the norm so that it makes sense to use a drastic solution for everyone. Target sells b.c. for $9 a month. Many women can use that product. Just because a tiny percentage of women is unable to pay doesn’t mean that it makes sense to go into an atheist feminist rage when some pro-lifers bargain for an insignificant work around that affects NO ONE. Is the problem that the citizens aren’t properly bowing their heads to Obama?

  33. RunningDogs says

    AsqJames,

    Elements of the dark enlightenment say it. There are some socialists and Marxists in that camp. Some of them are geniuses (e.g. James Watson) and some brilliant elements produce funny intellectual products.

  34. PatrickG says

    @ RunningDogs:

    You are misinformed. Try reading up on the issues. Like, say, here.

    Come back when you actually know something.

  35. RunningDogs says

    blitzgal

    “There is absolutely NO REASON for insurance companies to refuse to cover it.”

    In fact, insurance companies would NEVER cover b.c.. Insurance companies exist to spread risk so that insurees can handle large and unexpected costs. B.c. is a small and expected cost for almost all women. What the left is doing is turning every “insurance” plan into a medical payment plan. The most ridiculous version of this would be to use your “insurance” to buy aspirin from the grocery store, but b.c. is pretty insane.

    Why is everyone here in an atheist feminist rage because Catholics have bargained for a tiny, face-saving carveout that allows them some peace of mind while Obama et al are still making sure that “everyone is covered?”

  36. blitzgal says

    @PatrickG — My point is that we let ourselves get distracted when we let people like RunningDogs frame the debate with an argument over expense. Birth control is standard health care. It doesn’t matter if it’s “chump change” or not. Treating it as a separate class of health care simply furthers the conservative cause to stigmatize women and treat half of humanity a “niche” market.

    @RunningDogs — You’re either disingenuous or a moron. If we want to talk risk and insurance, it is far more cost effective in the long run for an insurance company to provide coverage for birth control than it is for them cover the expense of every woman having ten babies. Now you’re just embarrassing yourself.

  37. sambarge says

    What country is it that ‘settled the debate’ 40 years ago?

    Canada. A national healthcare program, single-payer, administered by the provinces. And it’s been over 40 yrs – since 1966, nationwide. And not part of Europe.

    We fight cuts all the time because we live next door to the most insane country in the world where people like you discuss health out of your ass. It keeps infecting Canadian politics because that sort of imbecility is like the flu.

    Blitzgal has you pegged, I think – disingenuous or a fool. In either case, beneath notice.

  38. escuerd says

    RunningDogs:

    Most leftists believe that nationalizing an industry fixes the industry. This is uninformed thinking.

    The second statement is true on more levels than you intended.

    The profit motive can be a great optimizer. But it makes sense to consider whether it’s optimizing the things you care about in every case. I don’t think it is for health insurance.

    I’m just fine with nationalizing risk pooling for risks that everyone is subject to (e.g. getting sick or injured).

    Many European countries are making giant cuts to healthcare outlays and the debates are heating up.

    Yeah, there’s a whole debate over austerity (doesn’t seem to be doing much to improve the status of countries that are engaging in it). I don’t think that the idea that nationalized healthcare somehow caused the crisis in the “Eurozone” is really credible. If you want to talk about expenditures vs. results, though:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_total_health_expenditure_%28PPP%29_per_capita

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/117205/americans-not-feeling-health-benefits-high-spending.aspx

  39. PatrickG says

    @blitzgal: I almost didn’t leave that comment, but given that retrograde people like RunningDogs still manage to make the Super Low Cost of Birth Control – Buy It NOW for $0.99! an issue… I think we’re in basic agreement.

    @ RunningDogs: So you read it, learned that the cheapest form of birth control is not necessarily appropriate for all consumers — in fact, comes with side effects for a lot of consumers — and also, in fact, some forms of birth control are used for purposes other than contraception …. and you still want to argue that Target at $9 is the reason for opposing coverage of basic medication on a basic insurance plan.

    Yeah, I’m going to go with Fuck Off as my response to you. You aren’t an honest interlocutor in this conversation, since you’re unwilling to look at, y’know, facts.

  40. RunningDogs says

    blitzgal,

    “Birth control is standard health care. It doesn’t matter if it’s “chump change” or not.”

    If a Republican characterized a leftist’s stance the way you have here, I would accuse him of making a straw man argument. I interpret this as “all health and medicine products and services that aren’t non-standard b.s. (e.g. chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy) should by paid for by a third party. Is this your real view?

    On reading your Bill Donohue link I find that it describes the same thing that Jen’s NYT piece describes but adds that Catholic leaders are OK with the compromise. If pro-lifers are OK with the compromise and it doesn’t lead to any discernible changes in outcomes (i. e. payments for b.c. will still be by a third-party) then why is this blog and comment stream exhibiting ‘atheist feminist rage?’

    Seriously … is there an answer?

  41. PatrickG says

    Seriously … is there an answer?

    Yes. Birth control should be available. In all forms. In every insurance plan. Despite religious objections, which require legal dodges to ensure all of the above (sort of).

    This has been another edition of Obvious Answers to Stupid Questions.

  42. RunningDogs says

    sambarge,

    “Canada. A national healthcare program, single-payer, administered by the provinces. And it’s been over 40 yrs – since 1966, nationwide. And not part of Europe.

    “We fight cuts all the time because we live next door to the most insane country in the world where people like you discuss health out of your ass. It keeps infecting Canadian politics because that sort of imbecility is like the flu.”

    What you’re saying is that the debate is not settled. The disagreements are deep. Every Canadian I’ve spoken to about Danny Williams has had strong opinions. Some believe that Canadians should be allowed to buy specialized medicine directly; many consider that unfair or on the path to a poorer system because wealthy people might lose interest in funding a system that they aren’t stuck in. Meanwhile, able Canadians are paying directly and right now for procedures to skip lines for elective surgery within country as wealthy ones go straight to the US for services that aren’t even available in Canada. Plus, various provinces send Canadians to the US for cancer and other treatments for the same reason.

    tl; dr: Canada is only marginally single-payer if some of its citizens pay for their own treatments to avoid loonnng waits. Canada needs to use the loony US system to treat many conditions. The US has (when violent deaths are accounted for) the longest average life expectancy in the world. A real nuthouse are we.

  43. RunningDogs says

    PatrickG,

    Seriously … is there an answer?

    “Yes. Birth control should be available. In all forms. In every insurance plan. Despite religious objections, which require legal dodges to ensure all of the above (sort of).

    “This has been another edition of Obvious Answers to Stupid Questions.”

    You’re not answering the question; no one here is. The question is: if (as you’ve stipulated) the workaround leads to the same basic outcome (third-payer b.c. for all) while pro-lifers get a tiny and almost meaningless concession, then why does this deal activate atheist, feminist rage in this blog’s author and readership?

  44. blitzgal says

    Disingenuous dood also mentioned paying for aspirin, as if the notion was so ridiculous he deserved a pat on the head for his sheer cleverness. Aspirin, when used to avoid heart disease, is preventive medicine and is discussed in the ACA. In fact, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t routinely covered already if prescribed by a doctor for the explicit purpose of preventing heart disease. My father’s Prilosec (an over the counter drug) was covered, for instance, when his physician prescribed it for his chronic reflux.

    At any rate, like aspirin, birth control is preventive care. It prevents the medical condition known as pregnancy. It is a standard of care for the vast majority of women in the United States and is an entirely uncontroversial treatment, no matter how much a few religious zealots want to pretend that it is. They like to pretend this is something that only promiscuous 20 year olds are using. They are flat out wrong. Walk down the street in the United States, and 9 out of 10 women you pass are using some form of it. I don’t know any married woman who is not using it, unless she is menopausal.

  45. RunningDogs says

    escuerd,

    I’m not claiming that the pre-ACA system was cheaper than any other system, or that there was much to recommend it. After all, pre-ACA, half of all US medical spending was via government and employers were given giant tax advantages over the self-employed in paying for it. Healthcare tied to employment is one of the many awful things FDR unintentionally produced and the ACA (written by insurance companies) will worsen this.

    I’m not trying to convince a bunch of leftists that free-market healthcare would be awesome because they’d have to agree that the key lesson of the twentieth century was that markets work better than governments and that’s obviously not going to happen regardless of the facts:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWALXrWeDQA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    I just want to know why leftists are immiserated and enraged even as their calls for nationalization are bearing fruit. Why do prolifers have to fully obey for feminist atheists not to go apoplectic? Are they just unsatisfiable thugs?

  46. blitzgal says

    Also regarding expense, just this week the news came out that 43.9 percent of American families are “living on the edge of financial collapse with almost no savings to fall back on in the event of a job loss,” but sure, let’s callously proclaim that birth control should remain an out of pocket expense that everyone can bear. And they can just eat rice and beans, and they aren’t really poor because they have refrigerators, right, Sean Hannity?

    http://assetsandopportunity.org/scorecard/assets/2013_Scorecard_National_Press_Release.pdf

  47. blitzgal says

    Oh and what a shock, disingenous dood is a libertarian. Yes, the free market worked so fucking well in the twentieth century. That’s why we had this tiny thing called the Depression in the 1930’s where a measly 10 million people died of starvation because there was no social safety net, and why we recently suffered another financial crisis because of the outright fraud being committed in the banking industry. Gee, it would’ve been so great if Bush had been able to privatize social security when he wanted to, wouldn’t it? That would have turned out SO GREAT after the financial meltdown in 2009. We already raided the surpluses for years, why not gamble the rest of it away? And oh gee, the banks have really learned their lesson after that one, haven’t they? Oh wait, they haven’t, because they’re up to the same old shit already.

    We don’t live in a free for all Deadwood style world, asshole, and frankly, you wouldn’t want to. You’d like to assume that you’d be Al Swearingen, but in reality, you’d be a hooplehead at the very least, or perhaps Mister Wu at the very best. We live in a society. You enjoy the benefits of the government every single day of your life with every breath you take, every drink of water, every bite of food, every time you turn on your lights, every time you take a shower, every time you take a shit, and every time you step into your car and drive to work.

    You are a fucking moron beneath contempt, and I’m done with you.

  48. blitzgal says

    Nothing worse than a 20 year old dudebro libertarian who thinks he knows everything but doesn’t even have a grasp of basic history. Here is my last comment on the issue. These are pictures of Pittsburgh in the 1940’s, before any clean air regulations were enacted. This air was NORMAL to these people. You think businesses will do “what’s right” by the consumer because it’s in their best interest? That is laughable, and provably wrong again and again. In this country, we have the egg producer who killed dozens of people and the peanut factory guy who killed more people. They knew their products were tainted but didn’t give a shit. In China, we have a formula company who killed hundreds of babies. Babies drink a lot of formula. That’s a lot of repeat business. Instead, this company knowingly put out a poisonous product that literally murdered their customer base. Business will not self-regulate. That is a myth and anyone who believes it is a fool.

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/06/what-pittsburgh-looked-when-it-decided-it-had-pollution-problem/2185/

  49. PatrickG says

    @ RunningDogs:

    You’re posting in the comments section of someone who’s (1) atheist and (2) feminist. Please stop pretending to be shocked (shocked, you are!) that commenters here don’t particularly enjoy watching religious anti-woman dogma given preferential treatment by our government.

    Not to mention that “rightists” are still looking for ways to derail the whole thing, and they’re still invoking right of association arguments to stop this. Because, you know, it’s not about their freedom-from, it’s about their freedom-to.

    that the key lesson of the twentieth century was that markets work better than governments

    *Points* *Laughs* *Laughs more* *Laughs really, really hard*

    Blitzgal already brought up the massive failures of Teh FREE MAAAAARKET in the 20th century. I’ll just continue pointing and laughing.

  50. Nepenthe says

    Level of confidence that Target sells bc for 9 bucks: _

    Level of confidence that RunningDogs is aware of what is involved in getting bc: _

    Level of confidence that RunningDogs understands that bc, like other drugs, comes in a variety of forms, not all of which are usable for every woman: _

  51. RunningDogs says

    blitzgal,

    “Also regarding expense, just this week the news came out that 43.9 percent of American families are “living on the edge of financial collapse with almost no savings to fall back on in the event of a job loss,””

    According to you, numbers are irrelevant. You’ve stated that all medical goods and services should be paid for by third-parties regardless of cost … even if said goods and services are as ubiquitous and cheap as aspirin. There’s no way for us to discuss whether b.c. should be paid for by third-parties to the sale because I can’t discern any actual reason for your beliefs. It’s if it’s called “medicine” it is unjust for A to pay C directly. A must hand to B who will hand to C. This means that I can’t see why youre experiencing atheist, feminist rage about pro-lifers getting a miniscule and outwardly meaningless concession to a very contentious bill. I have no frame of reference.

  52. RunningDogs says

    PatrickG,

    “You’re posting in the comments section of someone who’s (1) atheist and (2) feminist. Please stop pretending to be shocked (shocked, you are!) that commenters here don’t particularly enjoy watching religious anti-woman dogma given preferential treatment by our government.”

    There are tens of millions of pro-lifers in this country (mostly women) and their leaders just asked for one single symbolic concession: don’t force us to pay for birth control. We don’t need to stop women from getting it; we just don’t want to be a third-party to its sale. The Obama administration agreed to the alteration with this Blue Shield authored bill and a tiny, legalistic change was made. This is purely symbolic. If atheist feminists are enraged by a purely symbolic change that otherwise gets them exactly what they want, then it’s clear to outsiders like me that they are beyond reason. They have a lens that allows NO argument or insight to enter their minds. It means that they view a purely symbolic change as more important than results. Or maybe they view pro-lifers (mostly female) as unpeople who should be forced to submit in all things to the demands of our giant, violent government. Either way, it doesn’t look like reason is possible. They demand submission.

    “Not to mention that “rightists” are still looking for ways to derail the whole thing, and they’re still invoking right of association arguments to stop this. Because, you know, it’s not about their freedom-from, it’s about their freedom-to.”

    Catholics basically supported the ACA. They just wanted some symbolic changes. I am a rightist and I want a system more simliar to Singapore’s (and I’m worried that the ACA is going to make my healthcare more expensive and cause more job losses) but my wishes are irrelevant. Third-party paid for medicine means a lot to people for indiscernible, nonlogical reasons and they have no problem forcing me into a system that is built on it.

    “that the key lesson of the twentieth century was that markets work better than governments

    “*Points* *Laughs* *Laughs more* *Laughs really, really hard*”

    I mean something specific. In the twentieth century, extremely centralized economies were tried in much of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Each of these experiments lead to: mass starvation and penury, hills of skulls, little technological advancement. This remained the case until these countries collapsed under their own hideous poverty. It’s absolutely clear that markets are key to wealth creation, and every first-world country has a giant set of markets driving its growth. Some “socialist” nord countrirs have more developed markets than the US. So the number of government interventions needed to sustain functional markets is hard to nail down, but governments have a weak track record at running industry.

  53. mildlymagnificent says

    tl; dr: Canada is only marginally single-payer if some of its citizens pay for their own treatments to avoid loonnng waits.

    Strangely enough, exactly the same thing happens in Australia and the UK and most European countries. The specifics vary on how much money it costs to “go private” – much more in the UK than in places like Australia. The UK provides absolutely no subsidy or support for private medicine, whereas in Australia all medical provision is private, except for public hospitals and specific clinics, and the government uses different forms of payments and tax concessions to control health costs both for itself and the patients using the services.

    The Australian PBS, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, ensures that out of pocket costs for prescription medication is universally available at standard costs for everyone. Its main function is to act as a “group buyer” for the whole country so our costs, even when we use drugs which are not ‘standard’ subsidy items, are lower than they would otherwise be.

    The US would do well to look carefully at how other industrialised countries manage to spend half, or less, than the US does for equal or better outcomes. And, by the way, that remark about deaths by gun violence distorting the life expectancy figures doesn’t hold water. Check the CIA Factbook or other reputable data to find the USA’s ranking on infant and maternal mortality rates for starters.

    If the USA can’t get better infant mortality rates than Europe or Canada or Australia or even impoverished Cuba https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html ,
    and has 3 times the maternal mortality rate of Australia ( and 7 times that of Greece) https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2223rank.html
    then you guys need to take a long hard look at your health provision.

  54. RunningDogs says

    mildlymagnificent,

    “Strangely enough, exactly the same thing happens in Australia and the UK and most European countries.”

    Here are some things that I think we agree about:
    1)The pre-ACA US system sucked; there are many libertarians who would agree that the French model generally worked better.
    2)The post-ACA US system still sucks and may make matters generally worse.
    3)In countries with “universal” coverage, many citizens find the govt. controlled elements of the health industry to be totally inadequate, which is why they are willing to spend their own money.

    I disagree with many of your statements about the state of world health care. Example: Human Rights Watch has claimed that Cuban health care workers are basically political prisoners; they are sent by the junta to other crappy countries without their family members to insure that they don’t make a fuss or try to escape with their valuable, government financed skillsets. So it’s hard to know what’s going on there. This matches the m.o. of Communist countries during the cold war, who famously claimed all kinds of great outcomes that never bore out. This idea was lampooned in 1984, of course.

    I could argue with many of your claims, but it would be a pointless exercise because we value different things (e.g. I don’t care much about equality) and we have vastly different reading patterns and friendship circles. I’m basing this on how I viewed life when I was in the gray zone between social-democrat and socialist. The transition to my current libertarian state was costly and difficult. Unless I am way off about your politics, most arguments can’t go anywhere.

    Which is why I don’t care to convince anyone here that free-market medicine is the way to go. I just want to figure out why it is that feminists spend so much time sounding and acting like the Phelps Family. I want someone here to clearly state why atheist, feminist rage is the proper response to a meaningless compromise.

  55. rowenaravenclaw says

    What I don’t understand is why they’re worried about Catholics as a voting bloc making a stink over this. Lay Catholics, by and large, don’t agree with the church hierarchy when it comes to contraception. Most Catholic women, like most American women in general, use birth control, and likewise, most of them agree with the mandate. Yeah, it tends to be the loudest Catholics who tend to blindly believe everything the Vatican says even when it comes to stuff they don’t have to (like with contraception), but statistics suggest they’re in the minority, and I’d say probably anyone who comes from a sufficiently Catholic background (being Polish and Italian, I have a lot of them in my family) would be able to say so as well. That’s the main difference between Catholics and evangelicals, and why they tend to be a swing voting bloc as opposed to a lockstep Republican one.

    Plus, the 2012 election in general should have been a clear message to politicians that voters IN GENERAL, and particularly those who decide election, are sick of the ever-escalating war on women and we want our birth control, dammit.

  56. rowenaravenclaw says

    (Which isn’t to say I like Roman Catholicism at all, but I do think that political and statistical logic makes it clear that you can’t use the attitudes of the church hierarchy as a gauge for how Catholics vote.)

  57. freemage says

    RunningDogs: Well, for starters, how about this:

    During open enrollment, I select one of a handful of options for health insurance. While my employer is not permitted to know how I use that insurance (for instance, they don’t get to know if I’m using my coverage to pay for flu shots, antibiotics, surgery or alcoholism treatment), they do get to know which plan I’ve picked.

    I suspect that this is precisely how the program in question will work–if an employee wants the ‘contraceptive adjunct plan’ or whatever it’s called, they’re going to have to opt-in during open enrollment.

    Meaning that these women are going to be waving a red-flag to their disapproving corporate-church employers that yes, they’re evil sluts preventing the birth of potential babies. I can see why some would be a bit reluctant to make that explicitly clear, can you?

    Also, please quit acting like the only two options are, “All medical coverage of any sort is provided by the state” and “Free-market boogie”. Most of us on the left would, in fact, prefer a model where an acceptable baseline was provided via single-payer, with medical care that goes beyond that baseline is what you would buy insurance for (most likely a variation on the high-deductible, HSA model currently available).

    As an aside, the bit about ‘encouraging low IQ women to have fewer babies’ is a nice bit of projection, since your entire preferred system (in which everyone pays for their own health care) would leave massive numbers of folks dead.

  58. RunningDogs says

    freemage,

    I don’t know why you believe that enrollment to the adjunct will not be automatic, but OK. Maybe you have some evidence that this will be so. This whole issue is one of the million reasons that tying a medical payment plan to employment is idiotic. Thanks FDR and Obama!

    “Also, please quit acting like the only two options are, “All medical coverage of any sort is provided by the state” and “Free-market boogie””

    This is careless reading on your part. It’s blitzgal (and some other leftists) that believe that aspirin should be paid for by a third-party. It’s sambarge that believes that the debate over what the state pays for was settled 40 years ago in Canada. I know that some leftists have nuanced views about who should pay for what. You should talk to some of the less nuanced on your side.

    I don’t want the state to force me to pay for poor people’s medical care at all. It’s not about my wishes, but about me trying to understand how a leftist justifies b.c. as a “public good.” I’ve read a few posts and dozens of comments by the more statist elements of the “Dark Enlightenment” talking about the benefits of minimizing low-IQ breeding. Once you accept their axioms, the logic is pretty obvious. As an ex-socialist, I remember why I believed that forced third-payer medicine was a good idea and I know that there’s an unbridgeable gap in our world views, so I won’t try to make some compelling case to you, but I assert that you are wrong in believing that.

    Do you believe that the possibility of opt-in adjunct b.c. coverage is the big reason that you, the rest of the commentariat, and Jen are experiencing atheist, feminist rage?

  59. says

    RunningDogs,
    “says $15-$50 a month which is not nothing (up to $600/year) if you are living paycheck to paycheck (and that is a lot of us these days). And not counting doctor’s visit if you are uninsured.”

    See what I mean? Chump change. So cheap that it’s nearly free. Eschew one small purchase a month and it’s paid for. Only the most helpless or impulsive women in America are unable to pay.

    Which costs the insurance company more money:

    1) Covering the contraceptives (let’s say the average is $1000/year) for 1000 women. Total $1,000,000/ year.
    2) Given the very low rate of 20%/year who get pregnant when not offered contraceptives, and a mean cost per pregnancy of $10000, the total would be $2,000,000/year.

    Now, as the insurance company, acting strictly in your own financial interest, do you offer those 1000 clients a free policy for birth control?

    In fact, insurance companies would NEVER cover b.c.. Insurance companies exist to spread risk so that insurees can handle large and unexpected costs. B.c. is a small and expected cost for almost all women.

    So, you don’t think health insurance companies will make rational decisions regarding their costs?

    Now, I agree this change to the ACA is more symbolic than substantive. Most of the rest of what your posting is drivel, but that much seems to be accurate.

  60. crowepps says

    “It’s not about my wishes, but about me trying to understand how a leftist justifies b.c. as a “public good.”

    Aside from saving the insurance company/people who pay premiums the cost of covering unwanted pregnancies, effective long-term birth control has other effects generally considered a “public good”.

    Since accidental teen pregnancies and unplanned pregnancies have a higher rate of birth defects, preventing some of those pregnancies lowers the medical and educational costs of addressing birth defects, as well as the costs of providing monthly stipends to support those whose long-term disabilities prevent from working.

    In addition, unplanned pregnancies have a higher rate of pregnancy complications that are expensive to treat, and a higher rate of maternal deaths. They also produce a disproportionate share of child neglect and abuse cases, with their concomitant social service and criminal justice costs, both at the front end in addressing the offenders, and at the far end, addressing the victims’ disproportionate likelihood of criminal or substance abuse involvement.

    In short, by allowing couples to voluntarily plan pregnancies, birth control unleases a chain of useful good in every area of society, not just for women, but for their partners and their children as well.

  61. RunningDogs says

    One Brow,

    “Insurance” is used to pay for large and unexpected costs. B.c. is generally neither. So medical insurance companies have been turned into third-payer payment plans, a problem that began due to tax advantaging employer-paid health “insurance,” is getting more extreme thanks to the ACA, and is lauded by many leftists (e.g. blitzgal) who want third-payer payment of aspirin. It’s one of the reasons that healthcare costs will continue to rise quickly under the ACA. I regret that Obama, et al used this clunky, disingenuous, and lobbyist authored method to worsen the insurance issue, but it looks like we’re stuck with this bad trend thanks to his power grab.

    I’ll note that you’re assuming that the best way to induce helpless women to use b.c. is to force third-parties to pay for their “free” b.c.. I don’t know why you think this is the best or most reasonable arrangement, but fine. Based on my interactions with other leftists, my guess is that it has something to do “equity” or “fairness” and little to do with back of the envelope calculations.

  62. RunningDogs says

    crowepps,

    The big problem with the term “public good” is that leftists don’t know the definition. Usually, they just call something a public good to justify forcing third-parties to buy something for someone else or to justify government just taking over an industry.

  63. RunningDogs says

    One Brow,

    Oops, forget the best part!

    “Now, I agree this change to the ACA is more symbolic than substantive.”

    So do you also agree that responding to this change (as have the commenters and author on this blog) with “atheist, feminist rage” is deranged? I think that it is and that it’s a continuation of how badly most feminists respond to political activity or life in general.

  64. crowepps says

    In this case, however, the “public good” is preventing maternal and infant deaths, preventing birth defects, and preventing abuse/neglect of children, at a cost *savings* for third-parties and taxpayers. Considering that the ‘rightists’ refuse to support any of that because of their so-called ‘moral values’ makes the “atheist, feminist rage” perfectly understandable.

  65. RunningDogs says

    crowepps,

    It would be good to read this and then contemplate what your comments have to do with it and whether my last comment nails the mistake you’re making.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good

    Many rightists believe that the space for markets should be expanded for empirical instead of value based reasons … but then many rightists think that command economies are guaranteed to under form because of the natural experiments of the 20th century.

  66. says

    RunningDogs
    “Insurance” is used to pay for large and unexpected costs.

    I was under the impression that, in particular for libertarians, the primary goal of an insurance company was to make a profit while providing insurance. Auto insurance companies are offering car gadgets the measure driving safety because it increases profits. Fire insurance companies offer discounts for the presence of fire extinguishers because it increases profits. Health insurance companies will offer birth control policies because they increase profits. I was unaware that you were the sort of libertarian who thought that a company conforming to your notion or a business model was more important than making a profit.

    I’ll note that you’re assuming that the best way to induce helpless women…

    Women don’t need to be induced to to take birth control; they only need an opportunity; health insurance companies save money by offering that opportunity. What’s your objection, precisely?

    So do you also agree that responding to this change (as have the commenters and author on this blog) with “atheist, feminist rage” is deranged?

    Three of the first four comments basically agreed with you that the change is not substantive; I didn’t count much further. So, it’s inaccurate to say “the commentators” as opposes to “some commentators”. In fact, the original post mentions this, as well. Further, that the original post beings with “*Sigh*” should be an excellent clue that there is very little rage being expressed; I classify the tone as disappointed. So, while I would hypothetically agree that responding to this change with rage would be overblown, in reality I can not agree with you because your premise is flatly untrue and counter-factual.

  67. crowepps says

    Thank you for providing the link. My comments have nothing to do with it, and I see no error in what I stated, since I wasn’t talking about economic theories but instead social theories. Your insistence that you object to private and public entities being able to *save* money, as well as lives and suffering, continues to be puzzling.

  68. says

    Most leftists believe that nationalizing an industry fixes the industry. This is uninformed thinking.

    Most rightists cry about “nationalization” every time a liberal proposes anything, without even bothering to get even the most basic facts first, because that’s all they know how to do. This is infantile thinking.

    Grow up, little puppy, and maybe we’ll take you seriously.

  69. says

    “Insurance” is used to pay for large and unexpected costs.

    You really are that fucking clueless, aren’t you? Out here in the real world, where people actually have to take care of themselves, insurance is also used for preventive care to AVOID and/or MINIMIZE large and unexpected costs. And the more we’re able to use insurance in this manner, the more EVERYONE wins — not just those helpless stupid poor people you care so little about (while demanding they do their best work for you at the least possible cost), but insurers, employers, and taxpayers in general. Do you really need me to explain something that fucking obvious?

  70. says

    I just want to figure out why it is that feminists spend so much time sounding and acting like the Phelps Family.

    That’s your fantasy, so that’s something only you can “figure out.” What are you bothering us for?

  71. formerfetus says

    Well, Obama hasn’t caved far enough yet.

    He struggles, so…battling his inner-Marxist and all.

    “Religious organizations should have to pay for birth control coverage just like every other organization instead of receiving special privileges.”

    There’s Jen’s inner-Marxist.

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