May 6th, 2006


Compulsory insurance coverage for birth control:

Someone posted the following to the reasonablewomen community:

Viagra But Not Birth Control? Tell Insurance Companies to Cover Contraceptives!

There you go. Read the information. Sign the petition. Your future depends on it.

I'm not a member of the community, so I can't respond there. But this is how I would've responded:

People have wildly varying risk preferences. Some people leap out of airplanes. Others never leave rooms that smell faintly of cabbage, and spend their days typing feverish screeds on livejournal.

* cough *

Differn't strokes for differn't folks, you know?

If I leaned toward the cabbage-scented end of the risk spectrum, I might buy an insurance plan that covers everything -- dental, birth control, viagra -- and pay a higher premium for the privilege.

If I spend my weekends jumping out of airplanes, on the other hand, I might choose to buy insurance that only covers unexpected, catastrophic injuries or illnesses (and therefore has a low premium) and pay for everyday medical expenses (like birth control, and Viagra) out of pocket.

The reason many insurance companies probably don't cover birth control is because, as the article noted, 98% of women will buy it. Insurance companies make money by investing the insurance premiums. Their profit is the difference between that investment income and the amount they have to pay out in claims. If they have to pay out to almost everyone who buys the insurance, then insurance ceases to be a hedge against risk, and becomes a de facto pre-payment system. And they must charge a significantly higher premium to cover it.

Viagra, on the other hand, is not purchased by most men, and when they do buy it, they don't buy it every month. Therefore, more insurance companies can cover it, and make money without significantly raising premiums.

If Congress succeeds in making contraceptive coverage mandatory, it will raise the minimum price that all insurance companies must charge. People will no longer be able to buy just insurance -- they will have to buy into a package that bundles a de facto prepayment plan with true insurance.

I, for one, would rather have the choice, rather than Congress making the choice for me.

Cause sometimes cheapassery overwhelms risk aversion, even if one's room does smell of cabbage.