Yesterday, the Obama Administration hosted a health care town hall that was intended to focus on Obamacare’s impact on women’s health. Top Obama Administration officials participated, including the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius.
The discussion was heavy on emotion and light on the details of Obamacare’s provisions—and surprisingly lacking in the gender specificity it was supposed to address. The Administration’s generic talking points may or may not resonate with American women, but surely the real impact of Obamacare will—and in ways that are not favorable to the Administration.
Here’s a summary of the adverse effects that some specific provisions will have on the women the Administration claims to be helping:
1. Decreased Choice. Obamacare mandates that insurers cover preventive services recommended by the United State Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) with no cost-sharing. This has quickly turned the task force’s recommendations for doctors and patients into requirements on insurers and employers that could lead them to cover only services that are required of them. This fear was proven valid in 2009 when the task force downgraded the strength of its recommendation for breast cancer screenings in women between ages 40 and 50. A controversy ensued that led Congress to overturn that recommendation through an amendment to Obamacare—before the legislation was even enacted. Before Obamacare was law, this type of change in recommendation would simply have been helpful advice for doctors and patients, but under Obamacare, it could mean the difference between coverage and no coverage.
Also, as Heritage has pointed out before, “[T]he USPSTF is one of few government agencies legally allowed to take cost into consideration when deciding whether to recommend a medical service. As health care costs rise and the government’s role in health care grows, this may mean that cost will more strongly influence coverage.”
2. Higher Premiums. Obamacare’s “free” preventive services will still be paid for by the consumer. Insurers and employers are not going to absorb those costs; they will simply pass them on to consumers through higher premiums. Indeed, the Administration’s own cost estimates that accompanied its regulations implementing the preventive services requirements project that those new requirements alone will increase premiums by an average of 1.5 percent.
Mandating that some services be provided with no patient cost-sharing will further disconnect consumers from the actual cost of care and increase use of those services, raising costs and premiums even higher.
3. Blatantly Unjust Premiums. Obamacare’s new age rating requirements allow a maximum variation in cost ratio of only 3 to 1 for adult premiums. However, Heritage research shows, “The natural variation by age in medical costs is about 5 to 1—meaning that the oldest group of (non-Medicare) adults normally consumes about five times as much medical care as the youngest group.” Obamacare’s rating system causes insurers to charge unnaturally low premiums for older adults and higher premiums for younger adults. Actuaries estimate that this will increase premiums for ages 18–24 by 45 percent and ages 25–29 by 35 percent, regardless of gender.
4. Increased Dependence on Government and its Bureaucrats. Obamacare expands the role of government and gives extensive authority to the Secretary of HHS. As an excellent symbol of the department’s overreaching power, at yesterday’s town hall, one woman expressed appreciation for Secretary Sebelius’s “interpretation” of a particular provision in the law. Also, as depicted in “The Life of Julia,” the Obama campaign envisions cradle-to-grave dependence on government for American women. Under Obamacare, more than half of all Americans will be dependent on the federal government for health care by 2020.
5. Violation of Religious Liberty. At the town hall, when discussing the women-specific preventive care mandate that requires insurers to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs without cost-sharing, the Administration failed to mention that its regulations are a gross violation of religious liberty. The Administration exempts churches from this mandate but not religious hospitals, schools, or charities that find such products morally objectionable on religious grounds. That violates the First Amendment right to freedom of religion for all Americans—regardless of gender or faith.
American women don’t want to be dependent on failed government-run health care like “Julia” would be under Obamacare. To see what Julia’s life would be like with less government and more choice, check out Heritage’s version of Julia’s life with conservative health care reforms.