Benjamin Whetham, Grand Forks, letter: Obama wrong on birth control mandateIf Herald readers think health insurance covering birth control is a good idea, then they also must think that car insurance that covers oil changes is a good idea.
By: Benjamin Whetham ,
GRAND FORKS — Last time I checked, pregnancy is not a disease and is not contagious. The pill is around $50 to $75 per month; condoms are even cheaper.
And ironically, what the new health insurance mandate to cover birth control will do is make birth control both more expensive and less accessible.
After all, the whole point of insurance is to cover catastrophic events. For example, while minor car accidents can be expensive, they are not catastrophic. Insurance is for when I lose control on an icy road and cause a four-car pileup, resulting in a $90,000 bill. That’s a truly catastrophic event that could break a person.
So, if Herald readers think health insurance covering birth control is a good idea, then they also must think that car insurance that covers oil changes is a good idea.
The government is exacerbating a problem that it caused in the first place — namely, tying health insurance to employment via the tax code. When people try to buy health insurance on their own, they pay all the payroll taxes on that money first; but if they get that insurance through an employer, they pay none of those taxes.
Thus, employers are motivated to give ever-more generous health benefits instead of higher wages. So, take-home wages stagnate, and health care costs skyrocket as clinics have little motivation to control them.
The solution is obvious: Give the same tax breaks to people who buy insurance on their own, and let employees take as extra wages the money their employer currently spends on premiums.
The insurance market quickly will restructure to offer appropriate plans. Most people probably would opt for a low-cost policy with a high deductible, put money into a health savings account and still end up thousands of dollars richer.
This also would help solve the portability and pre-existing condition problem because health insurance, like car insurance, wouldn’t be tied to employment and could follow the individual.