Much ado about rubbers?

In this post, I wrote why I think cost benefit analyses suck.  Here HHS bureaucrat Kathleen Sebelius gives a great example of a bad cost benefit analysis.

She explains:

The reduction in the number of pregnancies [from forced contraceptive coverage] compensates for the cost of contraception.

First, I think it’s silly that we are fighting over rubbers. Seems like we have more important things to concern ourselves with than whether Georgetown law students can afford their apparently rich tastes in contraception.

Rubbers are cheap and effective. If you can afford to buy a drink and McDonald’s you can afford a rubber.

But, that’s not why Sebelius’ CBA is bad.  It’s bad for a few other reasons.

First, she doesn’t appear to offer any evidence. Last I checked, a large majority of sex-having-folks in our country already have figured out arrangements for their birth control. If they don’t want pregnancies and want to have sex, they have strong incentives to figure this out.

It’s not clear that government-mandate-health-insurance-contraceptive coverage will increase the number of people who actually use contraception properly. I’d venture to guess that a big portion of unwanted pregnancies stem from contraceptive mistakes like forgetting to take the pill or improperly mounting the rubber, which government-mandated coverage will not solve.

Second, no alternatives are considered. A good CBA always consider alternatives so you can at least get some idea of opportunity costs.

For example, if there are some poor people who do not get contraception because they are poor, why not try a more targeted approach, like having an organization that addresses their needs? One is called Planned Parenthood. I heard a caller on a radio show this evening that works at a clinic that offers a range of contraceptive methods, free.

So, one alternative is a more targeted approach to address the folks, apparently like Georgetown law students, who can’t afford rubbers.

A third reason I don’t like this CBA is that it doesn’t consider potential unintended consequences. There are ways this could lead to more unwanted pregnancies and/or sexually transmitted disease.

I’ll mention one.

Perhaps, contraceptive coverage enables budget constrained folks to trade-up from condoms to the pill, which leads to more unprotected sex and spreads more VD’s.

Also, it’s probably a bit easier to forget to take a pill than it is to forget to put a condom on.

The fourth reason I don’t like it is because it presumes such low expectations of us to not be able to take care of basic functions. Folks, there are some things we should be expected to do on our own. Take out the trash. Pay our bills. And buy rubbers. They cost about as much as hand sanitizer.

Are we going to mandate that health insurance buy hand sanitizers and soaps too? How about tap water? Think about how much money insurance companies could save from reduced disease and sickness transmission if they did that.

How about toothpaste, floss and toothbrushes? These have the same CBA’s. And they’re silly because ultimately we should be smart enough to decide for ourselves that the personal benefits of these things are well worth the price, so we choose to buy them.

And those who don’t buy them probably won’t use them even its free.

Take note. Obamacare is not in full effect and we’re already fighting over rubbers as if not having to pay a buck for one directly is an inalienable right. I didn’t expect it would get this silly, this fast.

Steven Landsburg also has a good post on the subject.

Update:  Commenter Mike M asks (and was mentioned on W.H. Heasley’s blog, The Last Embassy):

 If the Obama administration sees “access” to (which they have defined as having in place a mandate that someone else has to pay for it) contraceptives as a “basic human right”, why do they prohibit me from using money from my Health Savings Account to purchase condoms?

Mike, I’m sure if you get Donna Fluke to argue for your case, the administration will grant you an exception soon.

9 thoughts on “Much ado about rubbers?

  1. Seth:

    ‘Here HHS bureaucrat Kathleen Sebelius gives a great example of a bad cost benefit analysis.

    She explains: “The reduction in the number of pregnancies [from forced contraceptive coverage] compensates for the cost of contraception.“’

    Kathleen Sebelius, notional-ist at large, is so unbelievably unbelievable. Its almost as if what ever she says – you can count on the reverse being true. She is down right embarrassing. If anyone ever based an argument on “the way things ought to be”, it is Sebelius. She is the poster child for painting the world in one’s own self image.

    • I’ve known all too many like Sebelius in my life. You give them a nice title and they will do your bidding. She’s a puppet.

  2. I, for one, think that contraception is a great idea for Georgetown law students! If we can prevent Ms. Fluke and her ilk from reproducing, there may be some hope for a future generation with fewer parasitic moochers.

    I think that seth is spot on in his observation that Sebelius’ cost benefit analysis is agenda driven and is not supported by a careful analysis of the facts or an exploration of all of the potential consequences. Japan has been suffering – and will continue to do so for some time – from the consequences of very low birth rates. Ms. Sebelius assertion that the cost of providing contraceptives will be paid for by the savings from fewer pregnancies is a fabrication. It’s “true” because she imagines it to be true because it supports her agenda and for no other reason.

    But even if was true, the federal government has no right to intervene on the behalf of Ms. Fluke and her friends and deprive me of my freedom by taking my property. The purpose of government is to ensure that my property is secure for my own benefit and to only intrude upon my person or property and thus deprive me of my liberty when I have violated the social contract by intruding upon the rights of others to their own property.

    The real reason for Obamacare and its derivatives is NOT to improve health care or to lower its cost or even to promote a more equitable or “fair” environment. Indeed, the contraceptive mandate exposes ObamaCare for what it really is – a scheme to buy votes. Insurance is something meant to spread risk so that an individual is not ruined financially for an unforeseen and catastrophic event. As demonstrated by the Left’s claim that 98% of the population uses birth control at some point and the multiple posts on numerous sites showing multiple forms on very inexpensive (by any standards) products, the purchase of contraception is neither financially ruinous nor can any semi-literate person of reproductive age argue that pregnancy is an unforeseeable consequence of sex.

    No, the reason the Left favors doling out freebies to large segments of the population is that it’s an easy way to curry favor with the masses (much as a long list of aspiring dictators have done in what are now socialist regimes). Cutting health care benefits for truly catastrophic illnesses in order to fund what have been, and should be, usual and incidental expenses of a majority is not a difficult decision from a purely political standpoint – the political benefit of depriving a small minority of folks of their freedom in order to reward a much larger majority is fairly simple calculation. However, that same reasoning could be used to justify slavery. The fact is that our country was not founded on the principle that what’s best for the majority is justified, but on the principle that the rights of EACH individual are sacred. The contraceptive mandate and Obamacare violate this sacred right.

  3. If the Obama administration sees “access” to (which they have defined as having in place a mandate that someone else has to pay for it) contraceptives as a “basic human right”, why do they prohibit me from using money from my Health Savings Account to purchase condoms? NOTE: Under revisions (enacted under the Obama regime) to the HSA law, HSA funds can only be used to purchase what would normally be OTC (over the counter) – and hence inexpensive – items if one purchases them with a physician’s order (prescription). This entails not only purchasing an item at an inflated price, but the additional cost, inconvenience and breech of privacy incurred by a physician visit.

  4. Mssss. Sebelius has argued in favor of the mandate that employers provide coverage for “free” contraception on the grounds that preventing a new human from entering our world is cheaper than providing medical care for a new citizen (despite any benefits that new citizen may provide for our nation). On those grounds and with the data from the studies described in the WSJ article cited below, will the Obama administration be able to deny “free” antiretroviral (AIDS) drugs to any person who claims they are having sex with an HIV positive partner?

    As more people demand government mandates that require that more everyday goods and services be provided for “free”, do they consider the end result? My “friends” on the Left insist that this isn’t socialism because the businesses aren’t legally owned by the government, but people can only ignore the emperor’s lack of clothes for so long. Unfortunately, at some point we will have crossed the Rubicon.

  5. Pingback: Cost benefit BS | Our Dinner Table


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