All along, the Obama campaign has been trying to frighten women away from Mitt Romney by claiming that he will take away a woman’s “right to control her body.” This ad – which, to my very great annoyance, has been played in Virginia – is one example. A speech Obama delivered at a campaign stop in Colorado is another. In the latter, Obama claims that conservative health care policies would leave decisions regarding female reproductive health care in the hands of employers, insurance companies and politicians. But of course, as in all things, he is wrong.
First point: Insurance companies and employers may indeed have inordinate power over each American’s health care decisions at the present time — but that is precisely because of our third-party dominated system. If employers didn’t have to be health care providers – if, instead, they could just give their employees pre-tax dollars to purchase their own health care in the individual market – the issues of employer control and lack of portability would go away. (And by the way, Catholic employers would no longer have to worry about violating the creeds of the Church; according to the Church’s principles of moral philosophy, they would not be held responsible for what their employees might do with their health care stipends because those consequences are unpredictable.) Likewise, if patients had more opportunity to work directly with their doctors instead of going through their insurance companies, the power of those insurance companies would also diminish.
The question is, does Obama’s approach to health care policy come close to this genuine solution? H-E-double-hockey-sticks no. Instead, ACA doubles down on the failed policies of the past. It still requires employers to be health care providers. It still hands power to the insurance companies. It simply adds another layer of bureaucracy and regulations in a futile attempt to control the perverse incentives that plague our health care institutions. It does nothing to actually remove those incentives.
Obama feels the contraception mandate is necessary to prevent employers and health insurance companies from denying coverage for the birth control pill — but Obama’s policies embrace the system that made this a potential problem in the first place. Conservative health care policy, on the other hand, is designed to give the power back to the patient. If patients were in control of their health care dollars (via an HSA or something of that sort), then they – and only they – could decide what to spend their money on. On the basic things, they could completely bypass the bureaucracy — and the supply side of the market would respond by – gasp! – advertising prices to attract more customers and developing new ways to keep said prices appealing. And no — this isn’t just theory. This is what’s already happening in the fields of cosmetic and Lasik surgery.
Second point: There are many birth control options out there that are wholly affordable. Except for the initial class, charting methods are free. The condom is either free or dirt cheap and can be found at any local drug store or student health center. Generic Ortho Tri-Cyclen is available for $9 a month at Walmart. And finally, there are patient assistance programs available for the pricier birth control methods. Bottom line, there is no birth control access problem. There is, instead, an education problem; people simply don’t know that there are cheaper options out there because certain folks have a vested interest in keeping us helpless.
Final point: I would like to invite all the ladies out there to consider the possibility that handing a girl the birth control pill is not the same thing as providing holistic health care. Because in reality, the pill is merely convenient. The birth control pill does nothing to address the emotional consequences of our post-modern sexual landscape and only covers up the hormonal imbalances that result in many female complaints. Its existence also encourages a persistent ignorance regarding how our bodies actually work. Personally, I believe women deserve something better. They deserve a shot at genuine cures; they don’t deserve to be brushed aside by an expedient “panacea.”
But hey — if you, as a woman, like being dependent on a paternalistic government, vote for Obama. I won’t stop you. I do reserve the right, however, to question your commitment to authentic feminism.