Friday, February 10, 2012

And The Bishops Won

This battle. They are not going to win the war against the wimmenfolk but they will keep trying. Obama has figured out a way to let the bishops win without too much suffering:
U.S. health insurers said on Friday they feared President Barack Obama had set a new precedent by making them responsible for providing free birth control to employees of religious groups as he sought to defuse an election-year landmine.
Obama on Friday announced the policy shift in an effort to accommodate religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and universities, whose leaders are outraged by a new rule that would have required them to offer free contraceptive coverage to employees.
Instead, the Obama administration ordered insurers to provide workers at religious-affiliated institutions with free family planning if they request it, without involving their employer at all. Insurance industry officials said the abrupt shift raised questions over how that requirement would be implemented.
I don't think we have heard the last of this yet.

This might be a good place to note that this whole mess is caused by that odd and history-tied aspect of the American health insurance: It's mostly offered by people's bosses.

For several reasons that arrangement is undesirable, and what we learn here about the power of employers to determine what will be covered is just one of those reasons. Others include the fact that workers become locked in jobs which may not be the best matches for them, just because of that desperately-needed health insurance for a chronically ill family member, say.

Entrepreneurship is more costly in a country where health insurance for entrepreneurs costs more, by definition, than it would in an employee group plan, so fewer people will take the risks of starting a firm on their own.

Finally, offering health insurance through work biases the market towards covering healthy people with the lowest costs, leaving the less healthy to the mercies of the private health insurance industry which charges much more.