Monday, February 27, 2012

Will birth-control mandate cost more or less? Yet to be seen

Will requiring insurance companies to provide contraception be cost-neutral, as the Obama administration claims? It is unclear, and so is whether insurance companies will make Catholic institutions pay more. These were the findings of, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, consumer-advocate project funded by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

In support of its claim, the administration cites data from Hawaii's birth-control mandate, which shows health insurance premiums "did not appear" to increase. The study also found the number of pregnancies increased after contraception coverage was required.

But when Pennsylvania considered imposing a similar mandate, a state agency found "the amount of possible savings relative to the cost of the legislation is unclear." Findings were also unclear in Connecticut when officials there looked at whether or not insurance plans saved enough because there were fewer pregnancies to offset the cost of providing coverage. A Texas study found insurance companies would not save enough because women would buy contraception on their own.

A recent survey of 15 insurance companies found six thought costs would increase and another three felt the move would be neutral in cost. None felt they would save money because of the mandate.

"Until better data are available, we're unable to conclude whether the Obama birth-control mandate is likely to result in a net cost increase or not," FactCheck reports.

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