In 2010 the new health care law stated that insurers must pay for “preventative health care services” and cannot charge for them. According to the New York Times, “It requires coverage of the full range of contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Among the drugs and devices that must be covered are emergency contraceptives including pills known as ella and Plan B. The rule also requires coverage of sterilization procedures for women without co-payments or deductibles.” The problem with this mandate is that Catholic institutions cannot comply since it would violate moral principles. Catholic institutions were given until August of 2013 to “comply” with the mandate.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed this ruling and received support from Christian and Jewish organizations in support of religious freedom. These organizations saw that the government was squelching religious freedom and there was no longer a separation of church and state. In light of this uprising Obama took a step back and said that the Catholic institutions did not have to cover the cost of contraception. However, the insurance companies contracted by Catholic institutions to provide coverage to employees must provide free contraception. This becomes the “there is no such thing as a free lunch” scenario. Will an insurance company offer “complimentary contraception”? No, the cost will be passed back to the Catholic institutions.
Bishop Lori described this situation with a story called “The Parable of the Kosher Deli”. I suggest you read the entire parable. My synopsis does not do it justice. He equated the imposition of covering the cost of contraception akin to the government issuing a mandate that every establishment that serves food must serve pork. Hence, the Jewish people complain that this is unjust so the government makes a provision. The government decides that the deli does not need to make ham sandwiches or have them on the menu, BUT the government decides that they will force the meat supplier for the kosher deli to set up a kiosk in the deli and offer free ham sandwiches to patrons. At the end of the month, the meat supplier will provide the deli with a bill for the meat and the “free sandwiches” and the deli will be forced to pay that bill.
You may or may not agree with the issue regarding contraception. However, in light of the parable you may see that it infringes on religious liberty and support it on the premise of liberty. If religious liberty does not move you…then you need to consider the financial ramifications if Obama does not change his mandate…
What if all the Catholic hospitals closed rather than be subjected to this mandate? The Fiscal Times exposed the costly expense in the article Obama Risks $100 Billion If Catholic Hospitals Close. The Catholic Church operates the largest private healthcare system in the US with a 12.6% of all hospitals and 15.6% of all admissions. Without these hospitals the current healthcare system will be further strained since the remaining hospitals will have to prepare to absorb these patients.
Moreover, Catholic hospitals often consider a Medicaid and Medicaid payment as “payment in full”. For those of you unfamiliar with Medicare and Medicaid, often these payments do not fully cover the costs associated with procedures. According to the article from The Financial Times “Catholic hospitals handle more than their share of Medicare (16.6 percent) and Medicaid (13.65) discharges, meaning that more than one in six seniors and disabled patients get attention from these hospitals, and more than one in every eight low-income patients as well”. Thus, many Catholic hospitals are not very profitable and some operate with a loss. Thus, private investors will not be interested in acquiring such institutions…they want to make money, not operate to break even or sustain a loss.
If the Catholic hospitals close, and the remaining hospitals have to absorb the excess patients, three things will affect current patients at non-Catholic hospitals:
1) Hospital bills will have to go up for those who have private insurance to absorb the costs from those on Medicare and Medicaid. In turn the insurance companies will increase the cost of premiums so everyone with private insurance will have to pay more.
2) Wait times will go up for emergency room visits, doctors, visits and other procedures. Contingency plans for non-Catholic hospitals have not been created. No one in the Obama administration has considered the possibility that Catholic hospitals would close.
3) Hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs overnight creating a greater strain on the economy where unemployment is already a big issue.
What is a “moral issue” for Catholics could end up becoming one of the largest economic issues in recent years. Hence, you will receive “free contraception” under the Obama mandate. However, the trade off may include having to pay a higher insurance premium or no longer having a job if you work at a Catholic hospital. Both of these options are far costlier than paying for contraception.
How would you be affected if a Catholic hospital closed in your area?
NB: Not everyone who practices family planning uses chemical, IUDs, or barrier methods. For those of you looking to reduce the cost and side effects of man made contraceptive methods, natural methods are available which rely on temperature, bodily fluids, etc. Some of these methods work with monitors or computer software. Some alternatives include:
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