Backinthe Day: My Dad’s Explanation for Excluding Women’s Health Care from Corporate Insurance Plans

Back in the 1970s, feminists like I was then got upset that corporate insurers excluded women’s health care coverage from their packages. As Eleanor Holmes Norton pointed out in Congressional hearings yesterday, they defined pregnancy and its related care as “voluntary” measures. Same with contraceptives. And voluntary measures are always excluded.

But having a family, nurturing that family, protecting that family is the strongest inner energy most of us ever feel. It isn’t male or female. It doesn’t limit itself by race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, national origin, language spoken at home… none of those.

It is, therefore, what insurance economists consider a Long term Treatable Chronic Condition.

And there is nothing insurers want to avoid more than they want to avoid Long term Treatable Chronic Conditions.

So according to my Dad, all those decades ago — socially liberal, economically cautious, UU Republican economist — the real reason the Catholic bishops don’t want to pay for contraceptives is that to do so would put a serious hole in the bucket they use to pay expenses and have enough left over to maintain their corporate power and project their corporate force.

And so long as the left plays into their long term chronic vision by calling this a Women’s Health Issue instead of a Corporate Power Grab, they really don’t care how upset we get,we’re letting them off the hook.

Is the left really too stupid to see who’s hiding behind the curtain working the puppets? I’m not talking about the Pope, I’m talking about the corporate insurance industry, for whom the Catholic Church, in good Christian fashion, is taking the fall.



3 thoughts on “Backinthe Day: My Dad’s Explanation for Excluding Women’s Health Care from Corporate Insurance Plans

  1. A lot of employers self-insure if their employment base is large enough. They hire a private insurer to administer their employee health plans, but the employees’ actual health provider costs are ultimately paid by the employer, not the insurance company. So the Catholic Church in this case is not so much “taking the fall” by offering itself as a vicarious sacrifice on behalf of “the corporate insurance industry”, as it is using a disingenuous *moral* argument to protect its own *economic* interests (and those of similar self-insuring employers).

  2. But I would also say that, whatever the Catholic Church’s true motivation may be, allowing denial or requiring provision of contraceptive health coverage as a public policy matter is still a women’s health issue.

    The most interesting question to me, which hasn’t received much attention, is whether the ultimate cost to society of contraceptives would be driven down if the retail prices of the products were not negotiated and supported by oligopsonistic insurance cartels. There is a fairly wide range of contraceptive alternatives available. A large number of individual private buyers might be more price-sensitive, and more eager to substitute among products to find a lower price point, than a few cozy insurance plans now are. Means-tested reimbursement could still be offered under a much more limited program for the truly indigent who couldn’t afford it otherwise.

    • Great points, Fausto (didn’t know you were still blogging, this in itself is good news).

      So now we have THREE legislative items that this controversy puts into play:

      1) Should corporations be entitled to “consciences” as if they were living persons. (Citizens United issue)

      2) Should corporations be required to provide benefits to their employees at a cost to their ability to hire real people, or should these costs be shifted to direct living-person — government transactions, leaving corporations to pay employees only for goods and services they provide as corporate emissaries?

      3) Should the price, supply, quantity and quality of medications and medical apparati be determined by market forces — and therefore vulnerable to monetary incentives when shareholders and boards of directors become too remote to exercise internal oversights — or should these be government-managed?

      Sheesh, no wonder people would rather talk about sex!

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