The Birth Control Debate...

Updated on February 19, 2012
L._. asks from Lakeside, CA
19 answers

Not wanting to be difficult to the people below saying that this is a settled issue... It doesn't seem to be settled. This headline on Foxnews this morning shows that it's far from settled.

""States attack 'Obamacare' with birth control bills, would allow insurance companies to ignore new contraception rule""

I have said since the beginning that Obamacare was a huge waste of time. Just like Hillary was never able to overhaul the healthcare problems. He hasn't done it either. States are filing lawsuits right and left and 2014 is a ways off. Obama will not be president by then and the whole thing will start all over.

Everyone agrees that we have problems. No one agrees what the answers are.

I normally don't get that into these discussions. But since it's literally everywhere right now, I've been thinking about it.

I really don't think that they are playing fair with this. There are all kinds of drugs that are considered optional to take and insurance companies do NOT pay for them. It's no different than a company saying they will pay a small percentage of high cost drugs or a higher percentage of a generic. A lot of companies will not pay for a diet drug unless the doctor is willing to state that the weight issue is causing health risks that are significant. Someone like myself that is overweight, but my cholesterol is low, my bloodpressure is low, I'm not on any chronic meds, I'm not borderline diabetic, forget it. My insurance companies are not going to pay for it.

Furthermore, my husbands companies have shopped plans yearly as I'm sure many of yours have. So I've been with most every major carrier. I've had 4 children and 7 miscarriages. So the question of getting my tubes tied has come up several times. I never did it. But if I had, it would have come out of my own pocket for at least a few of those companies.

No one in the Catholic church is saying that they would fire an employee or take any other action against an employee for taking birth control. They simply don't want to pay for it. Why is that any different than saying that if a person wants more than 1 visit to the choropractor, it's out of their own pocket or that this or that company will only pay for 3 visits to a counselor or that this or that company is not paying for hearing aids. A lot of companies won't pay for hearing aids. A lot of companies don't offer any eye glasses or payment towards seeing an eye doctor. Then there is acne medicine. My daughter wanted to see a dermatologist for acne treatment. The company we had would pay for the visit, but not any drugs or cream for treatment of acne.

This debate is definitely not about birth control. It's about the government thinking they have a right to dictate far too many regulations and standards in American business. If you don't like what your insurance company offers, get a new policy on your own. If you don't like your job, get a new job.

My question.... When will the intrusiveness ever end? Are we going too far in general with government intervention into our lives? That's always been my passionate plea.

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So What Happened?

KN.. I agree that it's hard to make the premiums and we too are paying huge rates for a healthy family. I don't go to the doctor ever and I treat with herbals and just suffer rather than go. BUT, protection and providing are two different things. Our military protects us from those that seek to kill and terrorize us. WE the people are the government and WE can't afford the best of the best.

I think it's a bit like what goes on in our homes from week to week. This morning I was discussing what we had to spend on groceries this week. My mother wanted to take advantage of orange juice sales. I told her that even the sale is more expensive than I am willing to pay right now. Certain luxury fruits and fresh mushrooms and a few other things are simply off the table until I have the dollars for them. I don't expect the government to come in and fix my budget cash flow issues.

I didn't hear about the compromise and I'm really glad it's settled. I was getting pretty sick of hearing about it :)

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answers from Missoula on

I would send a million flowers to Zee E. if I could. What a thoughtful, intelligent answer.
I agree 100%.

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answers from San Francisco on

Whose intrusiveness is okay? Is it okay for an employer, due to his/her particular beliefs to dictate health care choices for employees? Why is there always a railing against government intrusiveness on issues like health care when the employers are doing the exact same thing....taking away private decisions from their employees?

Why is the employer's religious freedom more important than the employees? What if an employer is of a religion that does not believe in a certain kind of medical treatment, such as Jehovah's Witnesses? Does that mean that employees of this person must have health insurance that does not pay for those procedures (like blood transfusions)? Do all of the people who work for this employer have to conform to the proper behavior of his or her religion? Why? Because they are the employer? Go get another job? Really, what if you get into an even worse situation?

This is all more than a little paternalistic and it is clearly a violation of basic human rights. Feudalism ended quite a long time ago, I think.

I am beginning to wonder, seriously wonder about the republican party. I mean, first the whole Komen thing and the railing against planned parenthood. Now this. What century do these men think we are living in? If you want to prevent abortions, then you provide low income women with health care and birth control at places like Planned Parenthood. If you want to reduce poverty, make sure that women have access to birth control. If you want to create economic stability in a community, you allow women (working women) to have access to birth control through their work provided health insurance. Why attack both? Why seek to take money away from Planned Parenthood and to argue against insurance-provided birth control unless you WANT voters to conclude that politically you have contempt for poor and working women? I do not understand the Republican platform of less government, unless it has something to do with an individual's sex life. I mean, do they expect people to just stop having sex?

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answers from Washington DC on

First and foremost, I have to say that it both angers and saddens me that it's 2012 and there are still people, let alone women, who think it's OK for a religious organization run exclusively by men to decide what women can have. Whether you think birth control should be covered by all insurance plans or not is hardly the issue; it's whether you think it's appropriate for a bunch of men to make that decision for you. It makes me sad that you are arguing against your own right to have the widest variety of medical benefits available to you.

2. Considering some of the other recently-passed regulations prohibiting or requiring various things, a requirement that insurance policies provide coverage for some of the most frequently prescribed drugs and devices seems like a curious place to plant your flag. How is requiring your employer to provide insurance that covers contraceptives any intrusion on you, anyway? You are free to take or leave both the policy and the prescription.

3. Refusal BY AN EMPLOYER to cover contraceptives (or any other device, drug or procedure) on moral grounds is COMPLETELY different than refusal BY AN INSURANCE COMPANY to cover something on cost/benefit grounds. It at least makes some sense that an insurance company wouldn't want to cover a device/drug/procedure that hasn't been proven effective, or for which there is a less costly alternative, but it makes no sense whatever for either to refuse to provide coverage for safe, effective, widely used and medically necessary treatments. (Hormonal birth control IS medically necessary for many women, and the GOP is still trying to make it possible for employers to refuse to cover it.) This is particularly true with contraceptives, considering how much more expensive it is to cover pregnancy and childbirth.

4. I believe the government has a real and substantial vested interest in the health of its citizens. The US is one of the only first world countries (along with Mexico and Turkey) that does not offer guaranteed minimum health care to every citizen, AND we spend more to get less. The US spends twice as much per person for a system that doesn't cover everyone than countries that provide universal health care, and we are not healthier. Our infant mortality rate is two or three times that of most of Western Europe. Because we do not provide well for all American children, we are falling behind the rest of the world in every metric: on average, American children are poorer, sicker, and less educated, PARTICULARLY in math and science, than their European and Asian counterparts. Under the OLD (pre-Affordable Care Act) system that you seem eager to return to, the average family health insurance premium is projected to be $24,000 per year by 2020, putting it well out of the reach of most families. Employers will either stop offering it, require employees to pay more for it, or cut salaries. Without change, health care will become a luxury. If you think a law that at least attempts to address these issues is "a waste of time," I have to wonder what you consider a good use of time.

5. Employer sponsored health insurance plans are a part of total compensation, and they belong TO THE EMPLOYEE, like salary or a retirement plan. There is absolutely no meaningful difference between giving an employee a health insurance plan that covers contraceptives and paying an employee a salary that will be used to buy contraceptives, so the "they just don't want to pay for it" argument is a ridiculous smokescreen. Catholic employers ARE paying for it, and they will continue to pay for it, even if they decide to stop offering health insurance to their employees altogether.

6. Regulations and standards are what keep American business, whose sole purpose for existing is to make money, from harming you to do it. Left to their own devices, businesses would naturally seek to spend as little as possible producing the goods and services they sell. In other words, if it costs a company money to keep the factory that makes your food free of roaches and rats, they won't bother unless forced to do so. And health care is not like other kinds of enterprise; there is no room for laissez faire where people's lives are at risk. If a company makes something that breaks the second time you use it, maybe no big deal. But if a company makes drugs without testing them and people die, that's a pretty big deal. And because of the stupid way the US delivers health care (through insurance policies that are organized and often paid for by employers), your employer effectively has a monopoly on your health insurance business; you take what they offer, or go without. In that case, where people have almost no choice about their health insurance, I believe that the government has an interest in making sure that everyone's health insurance policy provides a MINIMUM level of preventive benefits, and comprehensive contraceptive coverage is one of the MINIMUM preventive benefits advised by the Institute of Medicine. It's not like the government has dictated to employers what they must cover and for how much all across the board; the Essential Health Benefits package represents a drop in the ocean compared to the universe of available drugs, devices and procedures that employers/insurers are free to cover or not however they choose.

6. "If you don't like what your insurance company offers, get a new policy on your own. If you don't like your job, get a new job." Self-insuring is expensive, especially a policy with prescription drug benefits. Most people would be better off taking their employer's coverage and paying out of pocket for whatever that policy doesn't cover than trying to get better coverage as an individual. (Personally, I would rather see employees have the option of taking the policy OR the cash to buy their own, but that's not how we do it here.) The unemployment rate has been hovering near 9% for years, there are 14 million Americans out of work, and it takes an average of three months to find a new job. So neither of your suggestions is particularly reasonable, nor helpful. Again, I have to wonder why you're so bitter about something that will have zero negative effect on you.

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answers from Seattle on

You're right!!! I should just go out there and get another job! How stupid of me. It's so easy. Anyone would hire me and immediately pay me a living wage! Who cares that unemployment is so high...those people must not be looking hard enough. Why didn't I think of that?
You're right!! I SHOULD just go out there and get insurance. I mean, it's so cheap and easy! I am sure that a plan would just scoop us right up and charge us a fair deal.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

L., no disrespect but I think you need to do a lot more research on this....and to do that you really do want to seek out unbiased, factual sources for that information.

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answers from Seattle on

''Not wanting to be difficult to the people below saying that this is a settled issue... It doesn't seem to be settled. This headline on Foxnews this morning shows that it's far from settled.''

I can not even begin to respond because the first line ended it for me here....You got your information from FOX NEWS...The Corporation who as openly said that they do not care about the REAL reporting on issues...They will spin a story or anything to make it good in their ears and the ears of the Conservative viewers.

Nothing they speak on is FACTUAL information.

When FOX news stops lying, then I will view them as a credible source of information....Until then any information said to have been gotten from the channel is hog wash and not accurate.

First step in fixing this country....TURN OFF FOX NEWS.

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answers from Tampa on

I don't know about you, but I will absolutely be voting for Obama again... as for Obamacare, I stood staunchly behind it's original hard edge reform, but due to Obama's attempt to placate the unplacatable Republicans' - the watered down version doesn't do much of anything but DOES set the stage for better improvements, improvements that would take years within themselves if Obamacare had not ever passed at all.

Next you and those who feel birth control isn't an important issue will agree that insurances who don't even cover maternity care (how the hell can THAT even be legal) can still charge child bearing age women more just because they COULD have a child.

We need to scrap the current health insurance fiasco - close them ALL down then have them start anew. Eye care, hearing care, dental care, severe skin issues, birth control, behavior/mental care, etc should ALL be covered in a basic health insurance package. Men requesting viagra and the other erection drugs should be charged a premium fee, because most erectile dysfunctions are caused by lifestyle and diet issues and can be helped in less expensive ways. Birth control on the other hand cannot be altered or aided by exercise, eating right or sleeping more and should absolutely be covered no matter what plan you have.

Why is it ok for the government to try and force their way into your sex lives, saying women are not allowed to consider abortion as a choice - - but they can deny a woman the ability to ensure a pregnancy never occurs? That makes NO SENSE.

Obamacare isn't trying to make sure every citizen wakes up a 7am every morning - you know something stupid or unneccessary - they are trying to ensure their citizens have and use health care because as it is now, before Obamacare, health insurance was for the elite - because eventho your job carries insurance, doesn't mean you can afford to take it AND still pay for co-pays and medication premiums.

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answers from Atlanta on

Birth control should have to be covered as basic healthcare -period. I personally don't care what some institution believes is right or not. The Catholic church and their "celibate" Popes and priests need to come out of the middle ages anyway. So many of the worlds problems would be solved if more people used birth control! At any rate -fine -if some religious institution doesn't like the federal rule -then they can start paying taxes. They get enough breaks! I find it INCREDIBY offensive and ludicrous that those who have SUCH an issue with this being SO intrusive are the same people who want to tell me I can't terminate a pregnancy or that if I'm having gay sex -I'm a horrible sinner. Intrusive -THOSE things are intrusive. Requiring institutions to pay for what should be considered the most basic of health care is not.

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answers from Portland on

Sharon E's response mirrors my thoughts. Excellent summary.

And like Laura U points out, there is nothing simple, or often even possible, about changing jobs if the one you have doesn't offer the right bennies. Since 2008, people gratefully take any crummy job, just to keep their families fed and housed. There may be little or nothing left over to buy insurance or take needed trips to the doctor.

Not much employment has ever been available in the small towns where I have lived, and big cities are too toxic for my chemical sensitivities. I do wonderful work that suits me, in a job I helped create. But the pay is low, and the small company I work for isn't big enough to qualify for a group health plan, period. So I've purchased a private policy for over 25 years. It used to cost "only" a third of my income. Now it's nearly half. And the deductible is so high, it pays for NONE of my actual medical care. Not a penny. And it has exclusions for conditions and injuries I was born with or developed early in life.

I cannot get a policy anywhere that will give me better terms (I've looked, many times). This is the norm today. So hearing "Just get another job or another policy" is pure absurdity. Those jobs, and those policies, DO. NOT. EXIST. for the vast majority of Americans. Are YOU poised to be hired by a wealthy company with comprehensive benefits? Very few of your fellow citizens are – and those jobs are filled quickly when they do open up.

I've put off many pressing health issues for decades, including surgery to correct a childbirth injury, that would simplify my life in ways that most women can simply take for granted. But I can't trade that comfort for my financial future, or I would have invested my retirement account 20 years ago in this surgery.

I can't see how my health situation is my fault, and yet people who have insurance they can count on to meet their everyday needs seem to believe I shouldn't get medical care I can't pay for. So, mostly I don't. And I'm only one of millions of your neighbors and fellow citizens who are uninsured, or underinsured, or otherwise unable to get needed care for their families, unless they go to an ER for THE most expensive care available. The cost of which gets passed on to all of us as higher medical and insurance bills.

So, the very normal, everyday human needs of people like me, families and children, intrude into your life every day, whether you notice it or not, affecting the cost of your health care, the condition of your neighborhood, and now even your ability to sell your home and move to a more prosperous area. Most of the people I know work as hard and creatively as any CEO or upper-management wonk, scrambling to keep from drowning. I have worked two jobs (and the stress wrecked my health for several years), and I know other families who do the same – three or even four jobs between two parents. Without benefits.

These are good people, just like you, who love their children, worship in your church, contribute to society and pay taxes, and they can't get a break. What little they have is being drained away by an economy that was gutted by greedy, wealthy investors and banks. And their fellow citizens blame them. For what? For not having the foresight to have the right job before the crash? For living in a community that has no high-paying jobs available? For having work that is needed to keep industry profitable, but not is valued enough to be given a living wage or health insurance?

Your question is about intrusiveness. You are apparently living a comfortable enough life that you don't see the desperation and inequality around you – much of which could have been prevented by policies and regulations that keep wealthy and powerful corporations from playing with and preying upon the rest of us. That's not intrusive. That's common sense. Governments are formed to protect their citizens. Threats and instability can arise from within, as well as without.

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answers from Erie on

Actually, a church CAN fire someone for not being of the faith or doing something that disagrees with it outside the normal worker-rights laws. So, don't say they won't, because as long as they legally CAN, then there's a problem. With that precedent in mind, it's not a stretch to believe they would fire someone for using birth control. Here are some examples:
oh, and I like this one, it's just because she's female!

And you said this: "If you don't like what your insurance company offers, get a new policy on your own. If you don't like your job, get a new job." Really? REALLY? What kind of privileged world do YOU live in? Most of us DON'T live like that.

Anyhoo, this is all moot. Obama offered a really effective and fair compromise. If you haven't heard about it, then that explains why this is still an issue. No one is asking the Catholic Church to pay for any birth control, that was taken off the table.

But of course, the Bishops are still grumbling, even though they got what they wanted. Oh, wait, actually, they won't be happy until every woman is a slave to childbirth and has no access to birth control. I see the Church as the more intrusive of the two, given the choice between the Federal government and religion.

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answers from Williamsport on

Both sides claim the government intrudes to much when it comes to their OWN pet peeves, but thinks the government should do more to ban the other side's wishes.

Personally, I think ALL medical alternatives should be available to ALL people, and paid for by all people to the proportionate extent they can manage it. Some people are paying WAY too much. Some people legitimately cannot afford any or enough health care. And some people are getting too much for free-from entitlements, or cushy invisibly inflated work provided insurance.

And yes, I regard ALL the things you listed as optional along with birth control to be the same, and I think they should all be available, even the acne cream. They do it in France. Your skin is a part of your body that sometimes needs treatment. There you can take your prescription to the pharmacy for the acne medicine prescribed which is covered, or you can opt to purchase a different one. Here, millions of families work their fingers to the bone with NO insurance, their medical debt is through the roof, and junior's acne cream is just one more item putting stress on their family's grocery budget. I've been denied coverage for a severe chalazion over my eye from my work's coverage in the past because it was "cosmetic" Why, because it was on my face rather than in my liver? It hurt and I could barely see for months saving up to pay out of pocket (low salary at the time) to have it removed. And those are trivial matters compared the the serious medical issues people face every day. What could be a bigger basic human right than family planning?

President Obama may not be able to overcome governmental opposition and people's stupidity regarding being a healthy nation. But at least he tried. And he will be president in 2014.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I think alot of you are conflating two separate issues here.

There are two kinds of freedom. Freedom to - as in the freedom to do what you want and Freedom FROM which is the freedom to not have to deal with too much of many things both government intrusion but also the consequences of other people's behavior and beliefs. Here is the crux of the problem.

Why is it that so many people who want less government intrusion are so willing to let businesses and others intrude into their most personal decisions. Insurers want to cover birth control because it is cheap and the lack of it is expensive. Yes, there are areas which insurers do not want to cover. But this is not one of them.

If you truly believe the government should back off, I'll agree with you. But then lets agree all the way. The government has no business being in the marriage business. Who and what religious groups re willing to marry should be up to them.

The government should not be in the business of deciding what doctors will or will not give patients. On the other hand the government should not allow insurers to run rough shod over people's medical care which is what happened.

SAnity is when their is a balance between government, business and the people. Currently we have the bizarre intersection where one arm (business) has convinced the other arm (the people) that the problem is government. Right now the problem is both government and business utterly ignoring the people and doing what is in the best interest of business.

Be very careful of trying to minimize government in this climate. Business will fill the vacuum and you will end up with no rights whatsoever. Smaller government does not equate into more freedom, it can end up meaning less freedom and more power concentration and corruption.

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answers from Topeka on

Amen L....AMEN!!! I absolutely agree that our govt. has been taking on the role of "Big Brother" in the last few years and that it is time for us to stand up and say ENOUGH!!! Some of the things that they have regulated, I admit that I am on the fence about....helmets for motorcycles, no one with any sense thinks that it is SMART to ride a motorcycle without a helmet but if an ADULT chooses to get on a motorcycle and ride without one...why should the govt. stick their nose in. Of course, then you have the question of all of the medical bills that come from that time that the motorcyclist ( w/o the helmet) meets the pavement at 60 MPH. So, it is a complicated issue, with lots of different opinions.
To me, the question of the Birth Control is a much more simple issue. If you want birth control and you work for a business that is somehow connected to the Catholic Church...then come to my pharmacy and we will sell you a BC for $9 a our list of drugs that we provide at a reduced cost!!! If you can't afford $9 a month then you are in bigger trouble than just the fact that your company won't pay for birth control!!! lol
You CHOSE to work for that you should have KNOWN from the beginning that you were going to be dealing with the beliefs that are represented by The Catholic you said..if you don't like your own insurance OR get another job!!

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answers from Boston on

I believe that our government has obligations to all of us. It should protect the vulnerable (& in this I include people, our environment & wildlife). It should provide opportunities (a level playing field, if you will) for all to succeed. It should keep the "playground bullies" in check (Wall Street, anyone?). It should step in to make sure we each have affordable access to health care (speaking as someone who has spent over 20K in one year for health care for a "healthy" family).

I think it should step out of our reproductive decisions. When or if we choose to have a child should be up to us. I believe in a woman's right to choose how to use her body, including whether or not she should carry a pregnancy to term. That being said, I don't feel I havea "right" to government-supplied birth control. I DO have a right to ACCESS to that birth control.

As I said in a previous post about this subject, I believe the Catholic Churh (& in fact, any church) has rights also. Just as I believe they shouldn't have to perform marriage ceremonies for same sex couples (though I'm a supporter of gay marriage rights) because it violates the Church's beliefs, I also believe it shouldn't have to pay for access to birth control for it's employees or provide birth control services in it's health care facilities. It should not have the right to make these choices for it's employees or others.

Now, if we want to have a debate around access to health care and what the government should be doing, could we please talk about prescription drug AVAILABILITY? Over recent months I've had a terrible time trying to find Adderall to treat my daughter's ADD. It's continually out of stock locally. And this week another daughter had surgery. When my husband went to fill her prescription for Percocet (a strong pain reliever), he was told the pharmacy was out, had been for two weeks & their warehouse was out also. Now, I get that this strong medication has been the cause for drug store break ins & a pharmacy may not want to stock a large amount. Shouldn't they be able to get it, though, if necessary? Keep in mind that theft is not a big issue in my area.

The drug shortages are no longer for the unusual chemotherapy drugs, targeted to a limited population. It's hitting a broader spectrum of prescription medications. Now THIS is going to be a health care issue for all. I say, keep the government out of my bedroom and my Church -- but keep it watching corporations.

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answers from San Francisco on

I think regardless of how employers feel, they should offer insurance companies that offer birth control and every other reproductive choice available to men and women. Americans should be able to make the decision on their own without involvement from employers etc. about their own reproductive and medical healthcare.

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answers from New York on

You do realize the access to birth control decision was already decided and went to the supreme court years ago. It is about who pays, and equality.

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answers from Norfolk on

If procedures/medications were affordable, the issues would be where they belong - between the patient and the doctor and no one would be arguing about who pays for what because the patient could do it and it would be no one else's business.
What do we have to do to get to that point?
Right now, we have multiple insurance companies which negotiate a myriad of pricing structures and juggle with premiums to work out profits for their shareholders.
I think the governments only role in this process should be to negotiate affordable prices and there should be no more health insurance.
The industry no longer effectively manages health care costs.
Setting a price steps on no ones beliefs and it intrudes the least into peoples lives.
No one gets anything for free, only what they can pay for - that never changes.

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answers from Chicago on

1) Government loves to feel needed & wants us to depend on it
2)Government needs to do something about tort reform
3)Government should allow insurance companies to be competitive; so let insurance companies sell nationwide, not restricted to individual states
4)Government needs to live by the constitution & remember what separation of church & state means
5)Government needs to stop thinking it's a business and act like what America was founded on & use our tax money much better
6)Government has a responsibility to allow Americans to live by the Declaration of Independence of "Life Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness"
7)Government & us Americans have a responsibility to take care of: children, elderly, mentally challenged, destitute, all our war heros
8)Government and All Americans should also help people who fall on hard times. We need to *really* help these people with way more funds than the government currently gives them HOWEVER there needs to be a timeline set in place
9)Government needs to have less government facilities & employees
10)Government needs to GET OUT OF BED with the Unions

There is plenty more but we need to get ready for our big pinewood derby race today!!!! Have a lovely weekend my fellow moms & dads

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answers from Topeka on

Well the saying "land of the free" does not ring true for America. The government will always be able to dictate anything and everything they want to. It's always been that way. Yes, I agree, I would like the government to back off in a lot of areas. But our lives will always be restricted by the government.

Next question: Do We Even Understand What the Birth Control Debate Is?