Slight of Hand

Yes, I intentionally spelled it that way.

The recent wrinkle in the uproar over Federally mandated birth control coverage is not much of a new wrinkle.  Though various media sources seem committed to spinning it as a genuine compromise, it is not.
The ‘compromise’ removes the onus of deliberately handing birth control and abortifacient drugs to employees from religious organizations, and attempts to shift it to the insurance companies.  The idea is that it isn’t the employer now who is offering this sort of coverage – they are essentially ‘out of the loop’.  Rather, it’s the insurance companies who must proactively seek to offer this coverage to any woman who requests it.  For free.  No out of pocket expense to the woman.
All of which, is a pretty weak attempt to confuse the issue (hence the misspelling above).  The assumption seems to be that if we just tweak the verbiage a bit, religious organizations will be satisfied.  What is more likely is a hope that the tweaked verbiage will confuse most people into thinking this is a substantially different arrangement.  But it isn’t.  Here’s a good explanation of why.
Here’s the thing:  The employer, who contracts with the insurance provider, is still bearing the cost of it all.  The insurance companies are not suddenly philanthropic organizations dedicated to the Greater Good.  If their costs go up to provide coverage, rates go up.  Who is paying the insurance rates – at least in part if not in full?  The employer.  
The ‘new’ plan basically attempts to pretend that something is happening that isn’t happening.  It is asking everyone involved in this – the employee, the insurer, and the employer, to pretend something is not true.
The insurance company has to pretend that they are offering something for nothing.  And since part of the push for this whole policy is to make birth control and related products available to more women, nobody in their right mind assumes that these things are free already.  They cost money.  Every month.  But now suddenly, the insurance company has to pretend that it doesn’t cost money every month.  Now it’s suddenly free.  
The employer has to pretend, when the insurer comes back with a new set of rates for employee coverage, that the increase is just a typical increase, and not an increase that has gone up to pay for the added “free” coverage being provided to women.  Both sides in this transaction have to pretend that something is not happening that is really happening:  the employer is subsidizing or paying in full for birth control and abortifacient coverage for it’s employees.  As well as for employees of every other company covered by the insurer, since costs are averaged out across everyone in the insured pool, to one degree or another.
Employees have to pretend that either they’re stupid and believe that this is truly a new solution, or they have to pretend that their own religious conscience, or the religious conscience of their church or employer, or the religious conscience’s of millions of other people being forced to pay for this coverage – is/are not being violated.  By law.  
That’s a lot of pretending.  And I haven’t seen many articles that state in clear numbers what is being gained in all of this.  How many additional millions of women will be covered who aren’t now?  What is being gained at the cost of forcing American citizens who vote and pay their taxes to violate their consciences on one of the most divisive issues in our country’s history?  
Whatever the gain is, I’m pretty positive that it’s not worth the cost.  I just hope that others recognize that.  Soon.

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