Somewhat lost in the recent hubbub over the health reform law’s mandate that contraceptives be covered in health plans for employees of religious organizations is the impact it will have on health insurers. By and large, insurers have been publicly mum on the topic, though a spokesman for trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans did say, “We are concerned about the precedent this proposed rule would set.”
And what might those concerns be? As The Hill’s Julian Pecquet pointed out in a Feb. 19 article, insurers worry that the government could eventually mandate that health plans cover additional preventive services, including prescription drugs, without copays or deductibles, under the belief that it would save money in the long term. He added that the mandate covers pricey sterilization surgery, not to mention that birth control pills have a cost associated with them.
The administration has tried to allay fears that the birth control mandate will lead to a significant rise in health care expenses. In fact, officials argue that the mandate will actually save money as contraception “is cost neutral since it saves money by keeping women healthy and preventing spending on other health services.”
And the administration’s position here is bolstered by a recent analysis from Timothy Jost, a health law professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia and a consumer representative for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. He writes that the birth control coverage will be paid for “by insurers out of savings that they realize by offering contraceptive coverage,” since contraceptives cost less than medical care for pregnancies.
So, do you think that the contraceptive mandate will significantly impact insurers financially?