Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This letter was NOT published by the Wall Street Journal

My previous entry (below) about a letter published by the Wall Street Journal has a story behind it. The same day the WSJ ran the op-ed (one of many recently) encouraging us to attack Iran it also ran a piece about the fight between the Obama administration and religious groups about the Administration's decision (since weakened) to require hospitals and universities run by religious groups to provide "free" contraceptives as part of any insurance coverage provided to employees.

I had to pick which article to comment on, since I knew full well the WSJ would not publish two letters from me at the same time. I picked the birth control issue, sent off a letter, and the very next day the WSJ published a lengthy op-ed piece making exactly the same points I had made in the letter!

So obviously they would not use my birth control letter. I thereupon wrote the letter on Iran which they have indeed published.

In order to avoid totally wasted effort in writing the first letter, here it is.


In “Obama Seeks Deal on Birth Control” [WSJ, Feb. 8, p. A5], a Hawaiian model

is suggested as a possible compromise: Religious employers could enroll workers in a plan not covering contraceptives, but a reduced premium for the plan (presumably passed along to the employees in their paychecks) would allow “employees who want contraception to pay for the coverage out of their own pockets directly to the insurer.”

It would make more sense for employees wanting contraceptives to just pay for them themselves, eliminating the overhead associated with all money passing through insurance companies. Since only people intending to use contraception would pay for the extra insurance coverage, the additional premium would have to be more than they would pay for the contraceptives.

A critic of any concessions by the Administration is quoted to the effect that “If people can opt out of [paying for] specific services, the whole idea of of insurance falls apart.” Actually, the idea of insurance has already fallen apart when insurance is allowed, let alone required, to cover something like birth control that is a normal operating expense (like food and clothing) rather than an unusual but financially catastrophic expense (like your house burning down or major surgery requiring lengthy hospitalization).

Much of what passes for medical insurance today is actually prepaid expenses and makes sense only because it allows people to avoid paying income tax on substantial parts of their earnings.

Paul deLespinasse

Corvallis, Oregon

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