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“Accommodation” and Self-Insurance




President Barack Hussein Obama, and his administration, particularly with regard to the Health and Human Services (HHS) announcement, tried to “accommodate” everyone by announcing that insurers had to provide contraception to employees. But he didn’t consider the self-insurance issue. Or perhaps he did, but considered it a non-issue that will go away when the one year grace period ends.

On February 9, 2012, while trying to “accommodate” people who can read the US Constitution, particularly the first amendment, Obama said, “But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company – not the hospital, not the charity – will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles. The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly.” His objective was to take complaining religious organizations out of the equation, while ensuring employee access to important health benefits.

WOW! His statement really sounds good. But …

Does Obama really believe that insurance companies will not pass on the increased cost of contraception to hospitals and charities? Does he really believe that premiums can be separated into medical necessities and contraceptions, sterilizations, and abortifacients? Some employers would like to be able to purchase insurance from insurers that do not offer contraceptive coverage so that none of their money supports such coverage. Further, some nonprofit religious insurers have said they would object to a requirement that forced them to provide contraceptive coverage

And now the self-insurance issue rears its ugly head. Obama thought that he had found a way to ease objections to a requirement that ALL employers offer coverage for birth control to women free of charge. Obama tried to “accommodate” by saying his edict would make the insurers cover the costs, rather than the organizations themselves. But the issue just won’t go away. And now Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has spoken about insurance coverage. At her weekly press briefing, she said, “This is an issue about women’s health, and I believe that women’s health should be covered in all of the insurance plans that are there.”

Large employers, like the Catholic church, often choose to self-insure. Many large employers contract with an insurance company to administer the plan. In 2011, 82% of insured workers at companies of more than 200 employees had self-insured plans.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on February 17, 2012, that the revised rule on insurance coverage of birth control will apply to self-insured entities, as well as policies issued by insurance companies. So all of this uproar over insurers covering contraception may be moot.

But that’s just my opinion.

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