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CTnow

The cost of free contraceptives

9:45 AM EST, February 14, 2012

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Over the last few days, it has been interesting and almost comical to watch President Barack Obama handle the growing opposition regarding the decision of his administration to mandate coverage of contraceptives in the national health care reform benefit package.

The president has "compromised" by saying that these insurance plans will no longer be required to cover contraceptives. However, the insurance companies will be required to provide these products to the benefit plan members at no charge (including co-pays or co-insurance).

Does President Obama really believe that insurance company shareholders will give up their dividends to provide these benefits at "no cost"? Or that the manufacturers will begin providing these products to the insurance companies, and thus to their members, at no cost? Of course not.

The insurance companies will project their costs for these products, and they will increase the underlying insurance premiums to cover them. The employees (and their covered dependents) who are covered on the benefit plans will have access to free contraceptives, and the employers will be paying the cost of the products through their increased health insurance premiums, religious objections or not.

As a matter of fact, the insurance carrier actuaries will confirm that because the president is eliminating the option for insurance companies to charge co-pays or co-insurance, the actual usage and overall costs of these products will increase.

Regardless of what your personal opinion is on this particular issue, it's important for us to be open about what the ultimate costs of these benefits are going to be and who is going to pay for them.

Al Redmer Jr., Middle River

The writer is a former Maryland Insurance Commissioner.