Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Big Libs should avoid math and statistics

Diane Carmen, one of my favorite targets in the antique media of late, decides to prove that the state of Colorado is fundamentally unfair to women by using statistics and "logic" in her latest Denver Post Column. We all know I love math, so here we go.
A study released last month by the Guttmacher Institute ranks South Dakota 44th in the nation for availability of contraceptives and family planning services and for public policies that support women's reproductive health care.

Colorado ranks 40th.
What does this actually rank? Not the availability of contraceptives and "family planning" (read abortion), but availability as measured by the percentage of women who are either covered by private insurance or the public dole so that it is free or near free. This is not a measure of "availability" but a measure of who has to pay. It may or may not be accurate, but it isn't a question of the state in some way preventing these women from access to birth control, it is about who has to pay.
Even women with health insurance and prescription drug coverage often are on their own when it comes to birth-control pills and devices. While 23 states have enacted health care equity laws, neither South Dakota nor Colorado requires insurance companies to cover contraceptives.
Notice that the claim is not that either state prevents health insurance policies from covering said things, just that it does not require them to cover it. Do they require the insurance programs to cover all requests for a vasectomy? I somehow doubt it. This may be, according to your personal views, good or bad policy from the perspective of employers negotiating health coverage for their employees, but again, the state isn't preventing access to anything. And in which state does the law require a guy's health care plan to cover condoms? If you want equity you have to make condoms covered, at least until that male contraceptive pill becomes viable.
So a woman making $22,000 a year and paying $115 a month in insurance premiums still will pay approximately $35 a month if she needs oral contraceptives.
OK, so I make more than $22K/year. I also pay a lot more than $115/month in premiums. I pay a $20/month copay for my wife's oral contraceptives. Can I just pay for that out of pocket and reduce my premiums to $115/month? We are talking about $1/day here. I would agree that if a woman is on oral contraceptives for the purpose of being healthy (and many are) as opposed to just avoiding pregnancy that it should be considered part of any health care drug coverage package. But if you are a single woman who is having regular sex, is $1/day a big deal? If it is, can't you get him to pay? Or wear a condom? As social problems go, paying $1/day to have sex without worrying about pregnancy doesn't seem like one of our major crisis management issues.
The same woman probably would not be eligible for services under Medicaid in either state because South Dakota and Colorado do not provide funding for family planning services beyond minimal levels.
Again, are we talking about $1/day or are we talking about state (read my taxes) funded abortion?
And in case this woman gets raped or a condom breaks during sex, neither state requires emergency contraception to be available in hospital emergency rooms or through pharmacists.
This implies that these services are not available. She offers no proof of this other than the state doesn't require it. Personally, I think the state should require that Plan-B be available in the emergency room for any woman who comes in and reports a rape, but this may be unnecessary. I would assume that it is, the only question being who pays. I am happy to have my tax dollars go to this one for low income women who are the survivors of rape and are willing to fill out the police report. I am not so sure it is my job to deal with it on the "the condom broke" (read very often We were in a big hurry and didn't bother) case, but again, this is a "who pays" question not an availability issue. If you question my aside, try pulling a condom over your head and down to your nose. If you own an air compressor try filling it up until it breaks. If not, try putting it under the tap as a water balloon. Condoms rarely break.
Here are the facts: Only 56 percent of the women in need of publicly supported contraception services in Colorado are getting them, and 14 percent of pregnancies here end in abortion.
Notice the key phrase in there: "publicly supported". Is it my job to not only provide real health care but preventative care so you can have indiscriminate sex without consequence? This, again, isn't an availability issue but a "who pays" issue.
When it comes to teenagers, only 49 percent get the contraception services they need. And a full 23 percent of teenage pregnancies end in abortion.
OK, so now it isn't only my job to pay for the birth control of adult welfare recipients but 16 year old girls. THEY SHOULDN'T BE HAVING SEX! And if they are and can't get the guy to buy a condom we need to get better teachers in their health classes. Trust me, I was a teenage guy. I never passed on sex over the cost of a condom. I don't know any guy who ever did.

And here comes my absolute favorite and the reason I had to post this:
Women of reproductive age spend on average 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men. A woman who wants two children will use contraceptives for more than two decades. And then, when she experiences menopause, a wide range of prescription drugs to treat symptoms are not covered by insurance plans either.
Don't couples spend most of the money spent out-of-pocket for contraceptives and pregnancy care and delivery costs? Since for a great portion of their reproductive age most women will be married is this really a cost that SHE bears or is it a cost that THEY bear? And for single women, do you really think the average guy spends less than $1/day more than you on the whole dating scene? Two movie tickets, popcorn and soda once a week is a lot more than $1/day. Don't even think about going out to dinner. And if you are dating and using only oral contraceptives are you really being smart? This isn't 1968, sex kills today.

Are there issues in the current system? Most certainly there are. But Ms. Carmen tries to frame those issues as being oppressive to women. That is really not the case. One can argue that God has been unfair to women but not the state. What she really wants is for the state to pay for everything that anyone might want. I don't. I am willing to admit my desires are destined to be suboptimal. Her desire is socialism. We know where that leads and my suboptimal is much better.

In closing, I would vote for a plan saying every child bearing age woman is to be provided oral contraceptives on demand in the state of Colorado (or the country for that matter) if the state wants to go cut a deal for $25-30/month/woman. I would wind up saving money and poor women could get what they want for free and their premiums wouldn't go up. That is, however, the free market at work and not pure socialism.

If the state just forces all health care providers to include them and the state pays for those uninsured, then the premiums will go up for poor insured women, I get no cost break, and the state (read you and me) will pay $35/month/woman for those covered under Medicare. Our taxes will have to go up to pay for that. My plan is much better, don't you think?

The free market is a wonderful tool, socialism is a wonderful tool for destroying society.


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