Friday, February 17, 2012

Why not make other mandates free?

The Obama supposed solution to the controversy over the HHS mandate to religious institutions providing contraception and morning-after pills was to require the insurance companies to offer the services for free. They then pretended that this freebie would not be picked up by the religious institution offering the health insurance policy. In the Obamaworld, if the government says something is provided for free then it's free and no one has to pay for it. He has waved his magic wand and poof it's free.

If his want is that powerful, why isn't he making other services free? Dang it, why aren't we all getting health insurance for everything we want covered for free?

To ask the question is to expose the ridiculous assumptions underlying the Obama legerdemain. Of course, nothing is offered for free. Someone has to pay for it. Either the religious institutions are paying for it or the insurance companies' customers will pay for it. And the insurance companies are now exposing the fallacies behind the Obama mandate.
The administration has said insurers should ultimately make up any initial costs by avoiding expenses associated with unintended pregnancies. But a new survey of 15 large health plans shows they are dubious of such savings.

Asked what impact the requirement will have on their costs in the year to two years after it goes into effect, 40 percent of the participants said they expect the requirement will increase costs through higher pharmacy expenses.

The survey of pharmacy directors at the health plans was conducted on Wednesday by Reimbursement Intelligence, which advises pharmaceutical, medical device and other companies on reimbursement issues. The firm did not name the insurance plans it surveyed.

Of the health plans, 20 percent said costs would even out because they already budget for contraception in the premium, 6.7 percent said it would drive up pharmacy costs but decrease medical costs, while 33.3 percent weren't sure. None said it would lead to net savings.

"They think it will raise pharmacy costs and won't lower medical costs," said Rhonda Greenapple, chief executive officer of Reimbursement Intelligence. "The idea that preventative care is going to reduce overall healthcare costs, they don't buy it."

Last week, insurers including Aetna Inc questioned the precedent set by Obama's plan that would force them to pay for coverage with no clear way of recouping the expense.

But insurers may still seek ways to pass through such costs, either by increasing premiums to the same employers or to other corporate clients.
Yup, that is what is going to happen. Because there is no more such a thing as free birth control as there is a free lunch.
Charles Krauthammer takes apart the ways in which Obamacare is attacking liberties.
But let’s for a moment accept the president on his own terms. Let’s accept his contention that this “accommodation” is a real shift of responsibility to the insurer. Has anyone considered the import of this new mandate? The president of the United States has just ordered private companies to give away for free a service that his own health and human services secretary has repeatedly called a major financial burden.

On what authority? Where does it say that the president can unilaterally order a private company to provide an allegedly free-standing service at no cost to certain select beneficiaries?
And why should it stop at contraception? Surely there are other health care services that Obama can pretend are cost-neutral such as diabetes screening that they can mandate insurance companies offer for free.

And what is left of the fundamental premise that we have a government of limited powers? That's just some 18th century hogwash according to Obama and his liberal pals. As Krauthammer writes,
Consider the constitutional wreckage left by Obamacare:

First, the assault on the free exercise of religion. Only churches themselves are left alone. Beyond the churchyard gate, religious autonomy disappears. Every other religious institution must bow to the state because, by this administration’s regulatory definition, church schools, hospitals and charities are not “religious” and thus have no right to the free exercise of religion — no protection from being forced into doctrinal violations commanded by the state.

Second, the assault on free enterprise. To solve his own political problem, the president presumes to order a private company to enter into a contract for the provision of certain services — all of which must be without charge. And yet, this breathtaking arrogation of power is simply the logical extension of Washington’s takeover of the private system of medical care — a system Obama farcically pretends to be maintaining.

Under Obamacare, the state treats private insurers the way it does government-regulated monopolies and utilities. It determines everything of importance. Insurers, by definition, set premiums according to risk. Not anymore. The risk ratios (for age, gender, smoking, etc.) are decreed by Washington. This is nationalization in all but name. The insurer is turned into a middleman, subject to state control — and presidential whim.

Third, the assault on individual autonomy. Every citizen without insurance is ordered to buy it, again under penalty of law. This so-called individual mandate is now before the Supreme Court — because never before has the already hypertrophied Commerce Clause been used to compel a citizen to enter into a private contract with a private company by mere fact of his existence.

This constitutional trifecta — the state invading the autonomy of religious institutions, private companies and the individual citizen — should not surprise. It is what happens when the state takes over one-sixth of the economy.
And why would they stop there? Remember Nancy Pelosi has promised to try to do for child care what they did for health care.