Does contraception really pay for itself?

One industry official who didn’t want to be named said it’s clear contraceptive services save money over time or are at least cost neutral. But he’s worried about the White House compromise, anyway. He says insurance companies will be forced to put out a lot of money up front without getting reimbursed and that sets a dangerous precedent.

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Insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski says the problem is complicated by the fact that most employers and virtually all big companies self-insure. They pay their employees health care costs out of pocket every year. The insurance company is paid just to administer the plan. And it typically passes on its costs to the employers. Only in this case, it won’t be able to do that.

“The problem is the insurance plan is going to have to front about $360 per person who uses the birth control pill,” he says. “And the insurance company that does that will not be able to recoup any savings.”

This creates an almost unprecedented problem, according to Laszewski. Federal and state governments frequently order private companies to do things like put airbags in cars, he says. But those companies can charge more to make up the cost.

“I have never seen an example of the federal government telling a company they have to provide a service and they are not allowed to charge for it,” he says.

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