Puzzling

As my colleague Marc pointed out Friday, there are some pretty serious questions about the Administration’s new contraception-coverage mandate. I don’t mean that rhetorically. I mean it’s genuinely unclear what the answers are, even after a weekend in which Administration officials and liberal Catholic commentators like EJ Dionne went on the airwaves to claim that the President had resolved the controversy. Two questions, it seems to me, are crucial:

  • Are insurance companies really going to absorb the costs of employee contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients? Some commentators reason that because these services are cheaper for insurance companies than pregnancy care, the companies will be glad to foot the bill. Does that make sense? Have insurance companies made any representations about this? (As of this morning, there was nothing on the website of health insurers’ umbrella organization, “America’s Health Insurance Plans,” or AHIP). Why wouldn’t insurance companies find a way to pass the cost of these services on to the employers who purchase the insurance contracts?
  • What about religious institutions that self-insure? According to the Becket Fund, thousands of such institutions exist.

Until one knows the answer to these questions, it’s hard to see how this “compromise” changes anything in substance about the original mandate.

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