Monday, June 07, 2010

A Good Idea

That would be contraception as a basic health benefit in the new system:

Federal officials drafting guidelines to implement health care reform should include contraception among the basic set of preventive services for women that private insurance plans must cover without cost sharing, concludes a new Guttmacher Institute analysis.

The so-called Mikulski amendment in the health care reform law enacted in March stipulates that preventive care and screenings for women are to be covered free of any cost sharing. However, while lawmakers who sponsored the amendment made clear their intent that contraceptive services be covered, the legislation leaves it up to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop new evidence-based guidelines that would define which services to include. It is not yet clear whether DHHS will draft the guidelines internally or commission an outside panel to do so.

Despite it being a good idea, for reasons which have to do with the costs and problems avoided if contraception indeed were a basic benefit, we are not going to get it. That's my prediction, and the reasons are twofold:

First, it would be an expensive program in terms of the immediate spending. That's what is visible to people, not the later consequences of unwanted pregnancies and so on.

Second, the proposal feeds straight into the Womb Wars: Who owns them and what they are for.