Free contraception or just getting your money’s worth?

Much has been made over the contraception mandate rules implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act with many conservative commentators asking why the public should pay for others to have sex.  Along with the fallacious characterization of contraception use the controversy’s liberal use of the word “free” in conjunction with it introduces a whole other question. Are the proponents of these provisions really demanding free services or are they just looking to get their money’s worth?

With a show of hands, how many out there pay monthly premiums for health insurance that you hardly use? How many of you have basic, catastrophic care  insurance for use only in dire emergencies? How much are you paying for that monthly? Annually? And how much of a deductible did you choose in order to get that monthly premium rate?

On average, in the United States, individuals pay between $183 and $249 per month while families pay between $414 and $527 in monthly premiums. Annual deductibles ranged from $2,935 for individuals to $3,879 for families. These are individual employee contributions, not employers’ contributions to the overall cost of the insurance policies.

Now consider this, you are a relatively healthy person, if you have children, they may get the occasional cold but for the most part they are healthy. Doctor visits are infrequent on the whole. There are preventative care visits, screenings you could go in for but due to co-pays and deductible requirements, choices are made to put them off for another day, another month, another year. With the occasional exception of the inconvenient illness perhaps once a year, you are essentially paying every month for a service you are not using on a regular basis.

Are you getting your money’s worth?

In this particular, financially precarious time, this question becomes more pertinent and worth asking yourself. Are you getting the most out of the money you are putting into the system? This is where the Affordable Care Act comes into play. It’s where the apparent controversy over “free” contraception finds itself. Is contraception free? Are other preventative and basic care provisions free? No. You, as an insurance policyholder, are paying into a system on a monthly basis whether you use it or not.

As the system is set up now, if you partake in those services, you are required to pay an additional amount for those services on top of the monthly payments currently being paid. Furthermore, insurance companies, before the health care reform, spent a large percentage of those consumer premiums on non-medical costs – or the medical loss ratio – such as high pay for management, administrative costs, marketing and, of course, profits for shareholders.

However, now with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act these companies are required to devote at least 80% of  those premium dollars to customers’ health care. If this does not occur then the difference is returned to individual in the form of premium discounts or rebate checks beginning this year. The health care reform also requires a number of preventative care services be covered without additional charges to policy holders. These include but are not limited to;

  • Preventative Screenings

    • Blood pressure

    • Cholesteral

    • Colorectal cancer

    • Depression

    • Diabetes

    • HIV (for those of high risk)

    • Obesity

    • Anemia

    • Breast cancer

    • Cervical cancer

    • Osteoporosis

    • Vision screenings (for all children)

    • Autism

  • Immunizations for adults & children

  • STD testing (for those at high risk)

  • Contraception

  • Domestic violence counseling

  • HPV testing

  • Wellness visits (for those over 65)

  • Behavioral assessments (for all children)

  • Breastfeeding support & counseling

  • Oral health assessments (for children)

  • Tuberculin testing (for children at higher risk of tuberculosis)

While the controversy rages on with the misinformation feathers a-flyin’ distracting many of us from the realities, the focus is lost among the revolving door recriminations. So much emphasis is placed on who’s paying for what, attempting to direct public anger at one particular group or another but when it comes down to it, the one paying for it is much closer to home. And that is the one who should be asking, “Am I getting my money’s worth, yet?

Related Articles:

Average Per Person Monthly Premiums in the Individual Market, 2010 

How Much Does Health Insurance Cost?

11 Responses to “Free contraception or just getting your money’s worth?”

  1. With my recent diagnosis of MS, naturally a plethora of tests and doctor’s visit have occurred in the past several months. Between the deductible then adding in the 20% of the cost of three MRI’s (insurance only covers 80%), I’m pretty much screwed and broke as a joke. Bills come in, I look at the envelope and tuck them away in a drawer…… (sigh)

    • She speaks> Thank you for sharing some of your story and experiences. It sounds like you are right in the thick of the financial difficulties medical problems present in the US. Have you shared your experiences with anyone in government? I know the Administration wants to hear from people who can be/are helped with the reform. The more people hear about the problems out there, the problems their neighbors are having, the more people will see the need to fix the system rather than politicizing it all.

      Thank you again for sharing and I wish you the best.

  2. Once again, you supply a perspective I don’t find elsewhere. Keep up the good work. I read you every day!

  3. Reblogged this on DoubleyooTeeEff and commented:
    I wish everyone in America who is eligible to vote would read this.

  4. Excellent summation clearly presented.That’s why I’m one of your loyal subscribers.

    Ted, as seen From Where I Sit

    • Ted> Thank you and welcome to the discussions. I assumed this was your first time since the system made me manually approve your comment. Hope you continue to enjoy the musings here and I’ll try to keep them interesting 🙂

      • All who can see where America seems to be headed — and who care about personal freedom — need to speak out on issues. Keep doing what you are doing!

  5. The opposition to this bill are arguing for arguments sake. I recently had a discussion with a conservative friend about this very issue. He told me that it wasn’t his responsibility to pay for other peoples condoms. I think, as you did, if you boil it down to simple preventative healthcare being provided at low cost, paying for condoms is a lot less expensive then paying for babies. Along with the screenings you mentioned in your post, if we choose to provide those reasonably, we will save on the back end. It reminds me of our criminal justice system. We are trapped in a reactionary system. If we adopted a more preventative approach we would not only see better results, but it would be cheaper in the long run.

    • hunterjoy> I’d say that comment by your conservative friend about paying for others’ condoms is a great example of a symptom of the misinformation that’s out there. In the same manner, Limbaugh’s comments about paying for women’s contraception so they can have sex, shows that people aren’t even seeking out the facts. Sandra Fluke’s argument for affordable contraception was on behalf of a friend who took it for a medical treatment. But that never made it into the commentary from that side of the debate. Were you able to sway your friend’s views at all?

      These are excellent points you make here about how preventive care saves money. We are indeed in a reactionary system, in more than just the area of health care… but that’s a WHOLE other topic.

      Thank you for joining in on the discussion!


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