Should the GOP support over-the-counter sales of birth control pills?

posted at 12:01 pm on July 1, 2014 by Allahpundit

Bobby Jindal, who’s wooing religious conservatives ahead of 2016, has been pushing this idea since 2012. He anticipated the loophole in yesterday’s Hobby Lobby decision: Even if the feds can’t require a (closely held) corporation to cover contraception for its employees, there’s nothing stopping HHS from requiring insurers to cover it for “free,” i.e. through a cost-spreading mechanism that ropes in the wider population. That would solve the religious-freedom objection — Hobby Lobby’s money would no longer be directly applied to pay for abortifacients to which it objects — while guaranteeing that birth control remains effectively subsidized for employee. The only losers are … everyone else, now collectively on the hook for the subsidy. Jindal’s alternative: Why not boot the pill out of the realm of health coverage altogether by making it available OTC? If the morning-after pill is available without a prescription, it stands to reason that a morning-before pill should be. Costs would drop, personal responsibility would be championed, and the religious-freedom problem to all this would be solved. Congress could, as Jindal suggests, even adjust Health Savings Accounts so that they include OTC medicines, which would further reduce the financial burden. And politically, it would complicate the Democrats’ dopey “war on women” messaging by decoupling the contraception debate from the debate over abortion. How do you push a “Republicans don’t believe in reproductive freedom” message if GOPers like Jindal want to make the pill OTC?

Ben Domenech makes the policy case:

That’s one of the reasons why support for making birth control available over the counter is rising on the right and the left. There are a number of objections to this, but I find them to largely amount to unconvincing paternalism. The chief argument advanced is that standard oral contraceptives mess with hormones and have all sorts of side effects. This is, of course, true! But: dangerous side effects are rampant within all sorts of other over the counter drugs. Women can think for themselves and make decisions with their doctor and pharmacist about what drugs they want to take – and the evidence shows they are good at self-screening. In fact, it would actually increase the ability to mitigate and respond to unanticipated side effects, since changing tracks will no longer require a doctor’s visit and getting a new prescription. Assuming that women won’t or can’t take responsibility for themselves to consult with a doctor unless required to by arbitrary government policy is absurd.

It’s obvious why libertarians like the idea of OTC birth control. Conservatives should like it because it removes the responsibility for redistributive payment from themselves while demonstrating that yes, they really aren’t about banning things or preventing access to birth control. And liberals should like it because it will lower the drop-out rate, which is currently largely driven by the requirement to re-up the prescription as much as every few months. The American College of OB-GYNs supports it, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner support it, most of the world already has it, and making it official policy would lower prices, lower health care costs, and make consumers more cost conscious. All of these are good things.

Philip Klein likes the politics, too:

Philosophically, it’s consistent with limited government principles. It removes unnecessary government regulations and increases choice.

It doesn’t impose new burdens on businesses or religious institutions, nor does it require an increase in government health care spending.

And politically, it would also be beneficial to Republicans. It would make it a lot more difficult for Democrats to portray the GOP as being only interested in obstructing Democrats rather than supporting their own ideas, and harder to accuse Republicans of being broadly against access to birth control…

If Democrats oppose the move, they’ll have to explain why they want to force women to go through their doctors to obtain birth control and make it harder for uninsured women to gain access.

Right, but what about the intraparty politics? The vast, vast majority of Republicans (87 percent) find birth control morally acceptable; in fact, according to a 2012 Gallup poll, the GOP numbers on that question are almost indistinguishable from independents and Democrats. A heavy majority of Catholics (82 percent) also find it morally acceptable. The potential social-con objection here isn’t to birth control itself, I think, as to the potential consequences of expanding access — more people, especially teenagers, having sex. Domenech deals with that argument by urging conservatives to face facts: Teens are already having lots of sex and the morning-after pill will be an option for them even if OTC birth control isn’t. The culture war on this point is lost. True enough, but are social conservatives willing to concede that point when they’re also losing badly on gay marriage? Seeing the GOP, ostensibly the party of “values,”suddenly trying to one-up Democrats in making access to the pill easier might be too much at this particular cultural moment. Or am I not giving them enough credit? Comments in our Headline thread for Klein’s post are mainly split between people who like the OTC idea and people who think the pill has far too many dangerous physical side effects to be sold OTC, but moral objections are a sidenote. Is this an idea that Jindal and/or other GOP contenders can get away with pushing or is it destined to become some sort of RINO/true conservative litmus test?


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I like the idea of over-the-counter birth control. I think a lot of things should be over-the-counter. That would certainly end the Republicans oppose birth control narrative.

bopbottle on July 1, 2014 at 3:30 PM

I know that’s the idea, but I seriously doubt it would make a bit of difference in the narrative.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 1, 2014 at 3:53 PM

I just don’t see the point in ignoring the health risks of birth control pills just to gain some paltry point in politics from people who are still giong to do their best to smear you, anyway.

Birth control pills are given by prescription for a reason, and that reason is because they can quite literally kill you.

Birth control pills are not the only contraceptives in existence, so there is no compelling reason to make them available over the counter. Even with a prescription and occasional doctor visit, birth control pills are probably comparable in cost to most contraceptives that are available over the counter.

Let’s not promote risky actions just to score a minor political point.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 1, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Is your husband a doctor, nurse or pharmacist or an employee of a drug company? Only those people benefit when doctor’s prescriptions are required.

Anything can kill you. Should we go to doctors before we, for instance, use salt?

Requiring doctor visits for commonly-prescribed drugs is nanny state protectionism IMHO–and effectively a tax on patients.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Maybe you all can quit complaining about “activist” judges now? Never before have people been more miserable in victory.

libfreeordie on July 1, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Activist judges??? lolz

Do you realise that it was Bill Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and almost every Democrat in Congress that gave us the RFRA? It passed the Democrat-controlled House on a voice vote and passed the Senate 97-3 with only 2 of the dissenters being Democrats.

Do you even know why the RFRA even became a gleam in two of its fathers’ (Look, Ma! I’ve got two dads!!!) – Schumer and Kennedy – eyes?

It was Scalia’s opinion for the majority in Employment Division v Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that the law, when applied to the population at large, could not sustain carve-outs for religious reasons. And, this pizzed off a whole lot of people, especially those on the Left.

Why?

Because Manifest Destiny, racism, and genocide against Native Americans or something. Oh, and drugs!!!

You see, Mr Smith was a Native American, who smoked peyote as part of his ‘religious’ rites, but he wanted unemployment insurance and the State of Oregon had a law that prohibited the payment of such benefits to individuals that smoked the illegal drug. Well, we couldn’t have that. I mean, shit, we gave them smallpox and took their land. Soooo, Democrats, especially, led the charge up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act hill.

Later, the Supreme Court ruled that a city in Florida couldn’t prohibit the ritual slaughter of chickens by practitioners of Santería. See: Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993).

And, the Court, again relying on RFRA, held that the Federal government failed to prove a compelling interest (strict scrutiny applies in cases that infringe upon Constitutional rights) in seizing the Schedule I tea that was used for sacraments by members of a New Mexican branch of the Brazilian church União do Vegetal. See: Gonzales v O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006).

Instead of this being a decision by ‘activist judges,’ the Court was actually relying on legislation overwhelmingly supported and driven by Democrats. If Democrats hadn’t pushed for the RFRA and let Scalia’s opinion in Smith stand, the Obama administration may very well have prevailed yesterday.

So, tell us again, liveenslavedthendie, just exactly who the ‘activists’ were?

Call it Scalia’s Scimitar or something. He warned you. You didn’t listen. And, yesterday, he, along with Justices Kennedy, Alito, Roberts, and Thomas, used Democrats’ own law to hack off their heads.

Amusing really.

Mr Progressive, I understand that you know your hoist, but please allow me to introduce you to Monsieur Petard.

Resist We Much on July 1, 2014 at 4:03 PM

This was debunked a long time ago. The actual stat is that 98% of sexually active (defined as having had sex within 3 months of the study) Catholic women between the ages of 15 and 44 who don’t want to get pregnant use birth control. That’s very different from “80% to 90% of all Catholic women.”

Sockpuppet Politic on July 1, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Being Catholics, they would also consider the rhythm method to be birth control, one that the church allows. That means Ill misunderstands the numbers even more than you pointed out.

slickwillie2001 on July 1, 2014 at 4:11 PM

I get a little twitchy about this solely from a medical perspective. A 14yo girl goes and buys the Extra Strength* version of a hormonal BC pill, and begins taking it without talking to her parents or a doctor – I don’t know what the possible problems are, but I’m sure they’re not non-existent.

As to the freedom aspect, it would do much more good to eliminate a lot of the bogus infrastructure we’ve built into the health “insurance” system.

* I know different ones provide different levels of various hormones and chemicals, and doctors prescribe based on the woman’s needs.

GWB on July 1, 2014 at 4:18 PM

No, we don’t go to a physician for permission to use salt, but we do go to a doctor for physical exams that may lead to him telling you that you’ve got high cholesterol or blood pressure and to avoid ingesting things that might negatively impact those problems and may wind up killing you, like birth control pills.

Regarding Domenech’s points on teenage sex, pointing out that kids engage and then providing another tool to enable them isn’t a particularly persuasive argument. Providing parental guidance and consent controls would be, however.

I just don’t see the point in ignoring the health risks of birth control pills just to gain some paltry point in politics from people who are still giong to do their best to smear you, anyway.

Birth control pills are given by prescription for a reason, and that reason is because they can quite literally kill you.

Birth control pills are not the only contraceptives in existence, so there is no compelling reason to make them available over the counter. Even with a prescription and occasional doctor visit, birth control pills are probably comparable in cost to most contraceptives that are available over the counter.

Let’s not promote risky actions just to score a minor political point.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 1, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Is your husband a doctor, nurse or pharmacist or an employee of a drug company? Only those people benefit when doctor’s prescriptions are required.

Anything can kill you. Should we go to doctors before we, for instance, use salt?

Requiring doctor visits for commonly-prescribed drugs is nanny state protectionism IMHO–and effectively a tax on patients.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Recon5 on July 1, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Being Catholics, they would also consider the rhythm method NFP to be birth control, one that the church allows. That means Ill misunderstands the numbers even more than you pointed out.

slickwillie2001 on July 1, 2014 at 4:11 PM

cptacek on July 1, 2014 at 4:21 PM

of sexually active (defined as having had sex within 3 months of the study)

Sockpuppet Politic on July 1, 2014 at 1:47 PM

So, if I go Catholic I suddenly become sexually “active”? Dang……..

GWB on July 1, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Is your husband a doctor, nurse or pharmacist or an employee of a drug company? Only those people benefit when doctor’s prescriptions are required.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Wow, that’s one of the more tinfoil-hat statements I’ve seen recently……..

GWB on July 1, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Amusing really.

Mr Progressive, I understand that you know your hoist, but please allow me to introduce you to Monsieur Petard.

Resist We Much on July 1, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Miss Sophie, thank you, thank you, thank you!

31giddyup on July 1, 2014 at 4:33 PM

Requiring doctor visits for commonly-prescribed drugs is nanny state protectionism IMHO–and effectively a tax on patients.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

^^^ It’s mind boggling how unthinking liberals are.

darwin on July 1, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Is your husband a doctor, nurse or pharmacist or an employee of a drug company? Only those people benefit when doctor’s prescriptions are required.

Anything can kill you. Should we go to doctors before we, for instance, use salt?

Requiring doctor visits for commonly-prescribed drugs is nanny state protectionism IMHO–and effectively a tax on patients.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

No, my wife took a couple of forms of birth control pills for female problems, and had to switch from one form that was having bad side effects, and would have put her at risk for blood clots, which can kill you or cause a stroke, to another that did not have the same risk.

Some prescription drugs have been safely offerend in non-prescription strengths, and I see no reason for that trend to change.

But some drugs are considerably more dangerous than others, and should be taken under a doctor’s supervision.

There is simply no reason to pretend prescription birth control pills limit access to them. The point of taking them under doctor’s supervision is safety.

It should not be a political decision.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 1, 2014 at 4:40 PM

YES! That way birth control is “accessible” to every female, period! GOP better do it before the dems do, otherwise allowing the dems to do it gives weight to their “gop war on women” smear campaigns.

soapyjeans on July 1, 2014 at 4:48 PM

YES! That way birth control is “accessible” to every female, period! GOP better do it before the dems do, otherwise allowing the dems to do it gives weight to their “gop war on women” smear campaigns.

soapyjeans on July 1, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Who can’t get it now?

cptacek on July 1, 2014 at 5:02 PM

There is simply no reason to pretend prescription birth control pills limit access to them. The point of taking them under doctor’s supervision is safety.

It should not be a political decision.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 1, 2014 at 4:40 PM

You can easily pay $100 for a doctor’s visit if you don’t have insurance coverage. That does limit access to birth control pills.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 5:17 PM

You can easily pay $100 for a doctor’s visit if you don’t have insurance coverage. That does limit access to birth control pills.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Gee…And I was under the impression that this is why we have Obamacare in the first place. You know? Health care for all??

The truth is that more folks are uninsured today than there were prior to the passing of Obamacare. And the insurance was less costly, what the people wanted and it allowed them to use the doctors and services they wanted to.

But y’all could not stand the fact that the gubbermunt was not in control of it all, so you had to demolish the whole system and collapse the entire health care delivery mechanism as we have known it since our founding.

Yet you loons continue to defend this? Remarkable.

bimmcorp on July 1, 2014 at 5:29 PM

I like the idea of over-the-counter birth control. I think a lot of things should be over-the-counter. That would certainly end the Republicans oppose birth control narrative.

bopbottle on July 1, 2014 at 3:30 PM

agreed, makes all the sense in the world, then the hytsericsl crowd on the left will have to defend their position as for why can’t they just buy (on the cheap) and pay for their BC themselves.

jimver on July 1, 2014 at 5:51 PM

YES! That way birth control is “accessible” to every female, period! GOP better do it before the dems do, otherwise allowing the dems to do it gives weight to their “gop war on women” smear campaigns.

soapyjeans on July 1, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Smartest thing for GOP to do, the narrative will shift dramatically, and not in dems’ favor.

jimver on July 1, 2014 at 5:54 PM

You can easily pay $100 for a doctor’s visit if you don’t have insurance coverage. That does limit access to birth control pills.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 5:17 PM

But Zerocare says you MUST have insurance coverage, so your strawman hypothetical should not legally exist.
Have you forgotten already that your messiah guaranteed coverage for EVERYONE?

dentarthurdent on July 1, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Gee…And I was under the impression that this is why we have Obamacare in the first place. You know? Health care for all??

The truth is that more folks are uninsured today than there were prior to the passing of Obamacare…..

Yet you loons continue to defend this? Remarkable.

bimmcorp on July 1, 2014 at 5:29 PM

You are wrong:

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-07/after-obamacare-number-of-uninsured-hits-5-year-low

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 5:57 PM

You are wrong:

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-07/after-obamacare-number-of-uninsured-hits-5-year-low

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Then that means your premise is wrong. Your objection about the $100 doctor visit.

cptacek on July 1, 2014 at 5:59 PM

As the middle class Judeo-Christian culture slowly commits extinction suicide in their quest to avoid commitment and charity to a family….we argue about the choice the weapon by which we best do that.

Don L on July 1, 2014 at 6:06 PM

You are wrong:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-07/after-obamacare-number-of-uninsured-hits-5-year-low

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Interesting.
As I recall, the major argument FOR Zerocare was to provide insurance coverage (not actual healthcare of course) for the “30 million uninsured”. However, the article you linked says 15.6% of the population is still uninsured. With a population of about 315 million, that would mean about 49 million people are now uninsured.

So which numbers were they lying about?

dentarthurdent on July 1, 2014 at 6:07 PM

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 5:57 PM

You are, of course, counting the 2-3 million insured folks who we are now discovering are ineligible for the plans they have??

Rinse…spin…repeat…

bimmcorp on July 1, 2014 at 6:14 PM

You are wrong:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-07/after-obamacare-number-of-uninsured-hits-5-year-low
 
jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 5:57 PM

 
Interesting.
As I recall, the major argument FOR Zerocare was to provide insurance coverage (not actual healthcare of course) for the “30 million uninsured”. However, the article you linked says 15.6% of the population is still uninsured. With a population of about 315 million, that would mean about 49 million people are now uninsured.
 
So which numbers were they lying about?
 
dentarthurdent on July 1, 2014 at 6:07 PM

 
That’s why they’re only using percentages now, racist.

rogerb on July 1, 2014 at 6:15 PM

Folks there is a reason some of these drugs are not offered over the counter.

SC.Charlie on July 1, 2014 at 6:17 PM

Smartest thing for GOP to do, the narrative will shift dramatically, and not in dems’ favor.

jimver

No it wouldn’t, lol, because it’s a false narrative to begin with. It’s like saying if we just pass amnesty, democrats will stop calling us racists. Democrats lie. And they would continue to lie even if we made BC otc, and the usual suspects of idiots would continue to believe them.

And for the record, I think some bc pills should be sold over the counter. But believing it will change any narrative is fantasyland.

xblade on July 1, 2014 at 6:18 PM

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 5:57 PM

You are, of course, counting the 2-3 million insured folks who we are now discovering are ineligible for the plans they have??

Rinse…spin…repeat…

bimmcorp on July 1, 2014 at 6:14 PM

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/mar/18/john-boehner/john-boehner-says-more-people-are-uninsured-obamac/

Or are you going to believe your best buddy, John Boehner?

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Folks there is a reason some of these drugs are not offered over the counter.

SC.Charlie on July 1, 2014 at 6:17 PM

For the same reason that governments want to stop people from buying cars direct from the manufacturers. Hint: it’s not to protect consumers.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Or are you going to believe your best buddy, John Boehner?

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Which number is bigger – 30 million or 49 million?
Take your time, I know maths is hard for libtards….

dentarthurdent on July 1, 2014 at 6:31 PM

Or are you going to believe your best buddy, John Boehner?

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 6:24 PM

John Boehner is a Republican, and, no, I do not believe any one of those beltway morons.

bimmcorp on July 1, 2014 at 6:31 PM

For the same reason that governments want to stop people from buying cars direct from the manufacturers. Hint: it’s not to protect consumers.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Except that a car doesn’t directly affect the balance of hormones and chemicals in your body – which is what “the pill” does.
Well, the right car can affect your adrenaline level…. but beyond that – not quite the same.

I’m on the fence with this particular issue.
On one hand, it would be good to reduce government interference.
On the other, having been through a couple different blood pressure medications before getting one with bearable side effects, and seeing my wife have problems with many different prescriptions, I can see the health and safety side of having a doctor involved in the prescription process. Although my wife’s doctors always seem to deny that the drug they prescribed causes the side effects she encounters – so in her experience, doctor involvement has been of questionable value.

dentarthurdent on July 1, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Except that a car doesn’t directly affect the balance of hormones and chemicals in your body – which is what “the pill” does.
Well, the right car can affect your adrenaline level…. but beyond that – not quite the same.

dentarthurdent on July 1, 2014 at 6:40 PM

If you’re young, having a car can also directly affect your need for “the pill”.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Let’s just hand out all these birth control pills and devices to all young teenage girls. Ah, the 1960s period of free love all over again.

SC.Charlie on July 1, 2014 at 6:57 PM

So, I worry more about the miss-use of hormonal pills than the proper use of them.

Count to 10 on July 1, 2014 at 7:11 PM

For the same reason that governments want to stop people from buying cars direct from the manufacturers. Hint: it’s not to protect consumers.

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 6:27 PM

I’m not entirely sure what the effect of a boy taking birth control hormones intended for a woman are, but it sounds like one of the more nasty, and permanent, pranks a girl could pull on you.

Count to 10 on July 1, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Bundle them with cellphone plans.

It makes as much sense as forcing them to be subsidized via health insurance.

ajacksonian on July 1, 2014 at 7:30 PM

slickwillie2001. Oh I understand what the Church teaches. I just don’t consider calendar counting birth control and don’t think that most women do. The NFP types I know have six plus kids so I really think that it isn’t the 2 or three perfectly spaced out families. You?

Fact remains that most Catholics think using the Pill is valid and most Catholic women use it. Most prefer the method by their docs to the one recommended by the celibate elderly men. I’d give Humane Vitae about twenty-five years before it is revised.

Illinidiva on July 1, 2014 at 8:20 PM

I heard a lady self described feminist call this option the incest pill

Having an affair with a minor, Sleeping with the step kid. Have them take one of these first. Intimidation will get a foster child or a step kid to swallow.

A statutory rape facilitator also

This isnt aspirin

This, more even than antibiotics, has to be prescription only, and I believe minors should also have a court appointed advocate to investigate the situation

I feel for the little ones today

Our corrupt society sinks ever deeper. As they chase their own desires, the helpless ones are even more vulnerable. Want a DOwns syndrome sexcapade. Here, take this candy. It took a feminist to wake me up on this one. But she was worried about exploitation, not self gratification

entagor on July 1, 2014 at 9:13 PM

I’m not entirely sure what the effect of a boy taking birth control hormones intended for a woman are, but it sounds like one of the more nasty, and permanent, pranks a girl could pull on you.

Count to 10 on July 1, 2014 at 7:16 PM

You’re missing my point:

Car, teenager, mobile private parking spot with boyfriend or girlfriend,……

jim56 on July 1, 2014 at 9:34 PM

What the GOP should do is stop wasting time on these stupid wedge issues that are traps from the Left and concentrate instead on issues that REEEEELY matter.
Stupid is as stupid does, and Progs are inherently dumb. If the GOP constantly follows their lead, what does that make them?

I’m not donating $$ to a Party that can’t get their act together and continue to act as Prog-Lite.

Pelosi Schmelosi on July 1, 2014 at 10:11 PM

Interesting read from of all publications, The Atlantic in 2012. – Avik Roy

There have been, of course, a lot of pixels spilt in the Great Contraception Debate of 2012. But I want to talk about an underappreciated aspect of the story: how the new federal rule forcing all insurers to cover birth control will dramatically inflate the price of contraceptives.

To review, in January, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that, under Obamacare, HHS was issuing a “final rule on preventive health services” that would “require most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible.” (Emphasis added.)

Thus far, the big controversy has been about the fact that the HHS rule applies to some entities owned by religious institutions. And justly so. But another big problem with the rule is that it will enrich drug companies at the expense of people who want access to basic contraception.

Today, oral contraceptives are really cheap. At Wal-Mart, a one-month supply of Sprintec or Tri-Sprintec, manufactured by Barr Laboratories (a unit of Israeli drug giant Teva Pharmaceuticals) costs a grand total of $9. It profits the Obama Administration nothing to infringe on religious liberty for ideological reasons…but for $9?

The reason why birth control is so cheap is because there are no longer any patents covering the use of a combination of estrogen and progesterone for the purpose of oral contraception. The first Pill, Enovid, was made available in the U.S. in 1957. These hormones are very inexpensive to synthesize and manufacture.

Under the current system, drug companies have an incentive to compete on price. If you have health insurance that covers birth control today, your insurer is likely to charge you a higher co-pay for expensive, “branded” versions of birth control over cheaper, generic ones. If you don’t have health insurance, and you’re buying the Pill directly from the pharmacy at Wal-Mart, you have even more incentive to shop on price.

Under the new mandate, this price incentive disappears. Insurers will be required to pay for any and all oral contraceptives, without charging a co-pay, co-insurance, or a deductible. This “first dollar coverage” of oral contraception kills the incentive to shop based on price.

If history is any guide, this significant change will drive up the price of oral contraception. Today, Tri-Sprintec costs $9 a month. In 2020, don’t be surprised if it costs $30. Drug companies will be able to market “branded” contraceptives at premium prices, knowing that women are free to choose the most expensive, designer product because it will cost them the same as the cheapest generic. Prepare yourself for multi-million-dollar Super Bowl ad campaigns from competing manufacturers.

If you were surprised that PhRMA, the pharmaceutical trade group, backed Obamacare, now you can see why: the HHS contraception mandate alone will be a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle for the pharma industry. If your health insurance plan allowed you to buy a television, of any price, without any cost-sharing on your part, would you buy a 13-inch CRT or a 60-inch flat screen?

This gets us to a broader question: how the definition of insurance has lost any meaning in the context of American health care. Insurance, traditionally defined, is meant to protect us from the risk of unexpectedly incurring catastrophic costs. Car insurance, for example, protects us against collisions, but doesn’t cover our purchase of wiper fluid or gasoline. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover the cost of air conditioning. And yet, now, we have a federal law that forces health insurance to cover something that is even cheaper than gasoline or air conditioning.

It’s this perversion of the term “insurance” that helps highlight the weirdness of Democrats accusing Republicans of wanting to “ban” contraception. If a politician were to oppose a mandate forcing insurers to pay for gasoline or air conditioning, would he then be supporting a “ban” of these products?

The contraception contretemps is a case study in how thoughtless laws and policies drive up the cost of health care, making it less accessible to those who are most in need. The path to truly affordable health care involves moving in exactly the opposite direction: restoring the notion that health insurance is meant as protection for catastrophic costs, and letting people buy birth-control pills for themselves.

Yet the left hates Big Pharma and they whine endlessly about a company willing to pay inflated costs for 16 forms of BC?
Yup, the warz on da wymen’ezzz…zzzz..

StubbornGreenBurros on July 1, 2014 at 11:13 PM

Illinidiva on July 1, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Calendar counting? What, are you stuck in the 1920′s?

cptacek on July 2, 2014 at 1:05 AM

I don’t doubt that a small plurality of catholic child bearing aged women use the pill, or some form of physical/pharma – but the NFP method is used by more than is generally recognized and a catholic would call that a form of birth control. I know NFP types who have large families and others who do not. Clearly i think as a default a NFP user has a much more positive desire for having more children than someone wanting to do everything to limit that event from occurring.

As the lawyers continue to sue over the side effects of the pill, and as certain other forms of BC demonstrate side effects that people do not appreciate, I do not think we will see any change in the Catholic Church’s teaching in that regard. I expect, as we have seen sexual activity in teens drop somewhat over the last 10 years or so, a further examination of non-chemical BC methods that also protect you against STDs, etc.

OTC for the pill does concern me on the safety front, if we did that I think we would also have to do some tort reform. Otherwise it will get sued out of existance.

Zomcon JEM on July 2, 2014 at 9:41 AM

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