On the issue of contraceptive coverage in insurance plans, there is certainly a hue and cry. Catholic Bishops are whining that their missions are threatened, despite the facts that so many Catholic hospitals and university s already provide contraceptive care in their insurance plans. Oh woe, Republicans like Paul Ryan say! This is an attack on religious freedom. But please, let us remember that Paul Ryan’s stated first priority is fiscal responsibility, and let’s face hard facts here. The contraceptive care Paul Ryan opposes saves money. From the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute (my boldings):
Guttmacher Institute research finds that every public dollar invested in contraception saves $3.74 in short-term Medicaid expenditures for care related to births from unintended pregnancies. In total, services provided at publicly funded family planning centers saved $5.1 billion in 2008. (Significantly, these savings do not account for any of the broader health, social or economic benefits to women and families from contraceptive services and supplies and the ability to time, space and prepare for pregnancies.) A 2010 Brookings Institution analysis came to the same conclusion, and projected that expanding access to family planning services under Medicaid saves $4.26 for every $1 spent.
In terms of costs and savings for the private sector, multiple studies over the past two decades have compared the cost-effectiveness of the various methods of contraception, finding that all of them are cost-effective when taking into account the costs of unintended pregnancies averted. The federal government, the nation’s largest employer, reported that it experienced no increase in costs at all after Congress mandated coverage of contraceptives for federal employees. Moreover, a 2000 study by the National Business Group on Health, a membership group for large employers to address their health policy concerns, estimated that it costs employers 15–17% more to not provide contraceptive coverage in their health plans than to provide such coverage, after accounting for both the direct medical costs of pregnancy and indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity. Mercer, the employee benefits consulting firm, reached a similar conclusion. And a more recent National Business Group on Health report, drawing on actuarial estimates by PricewaterhouseCoopers, concluded that even if contraception were exempted from cost-sharing, the savings from its coverage would exceed the costs.
Let’s repeat here. The National Business Group on Health, working from data provided by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, both conservative sources, claim that insurance coverage WITHOUT contraceptive care costs 15-17% more than those plans with contraceptive care. Yes, unintended pregnancies are far more expensive than contraceptives, and therefore insurance that does not include contraceptives costs far more. Paul Ryan is a fiscal conservative FAILURE here. Rather, he is a political panderer, as all of us on the progressive side of the question have always known him to be. As usual, Paul Ryan is a fraud.