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The Pill vs an apple a day

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 12, 2012

Even if you accept that contraception can be morally justified (which it can’t), and that it’s a form of health care (which it isn’t), and that it is safe (which it isn’t), and that it serves the interests of women (which it doesn’t), and that it will save money in the long run (which it won’t), you’re still left with a cost that makes no sense as a health-insurance proposition.

You carry fire insurance on your home. Your home probably won’t burn down, but if it does, the insurance protects you from total ruin. But the insurance doesn’t cover your heating cost. That’s a predictable expense, which you’ll have to pay month by month. Similarly, with health insurance you pay a monthly premium so that, in the event that you are hospitalized, the costs won’t drive you into bankruptcy. The insurance protects you against an event that is, at any given time, unlikely but potentially catastrophic.

For a woman who is sexually active but wants to avoid pregnancy, contraception is an entirely predictable cost: a part of her monthly budget, just like her food costs. If she stops eating, she’ll soon need medical attention. Yet no one has suggested (not yet, anyway) that food costs should be covered by Obamacare.

Come to think of it, if there’s any argument at all for covering contraceptive expenses, there’s a much stronger case for subsidizing an apple a day. Paying for an apple a day is morally justified, qualifies as health care, is safe, serves the interests of women (and men, if anyone cares), and will save money in the long run. But it still doesn’t qualify as insurance.


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  • Posted by: Michael Burton - Mar. 12, 2012 9:49 AM ET USA

    I wrote recently that in light of our obesity epidemic and the diabetes and heart disease that goes along with it, you would think there would be more of a push for subsidizing nutritious foods and gym memberships. Unfortunately that would probably save too much money, help too many people, and not be nearly as controversial. Why I should pay for the birth control of a woman who is studying law at an elite uni. when so many of the poor live without affordable access to prescription eye glasses?

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