I know before I even start I’ve lost some of you. “The Healthcare Reform Law is an infringement on personal liberty. I am being forced to buy a product/service that I may or may not feel I even need!” Well, yes, you’re kind of right (“it’s a tax and therefore constitutional” argument aside), but please just hear me out through this series: a lot of the healthcare reform laws are actually good for personal liberty (though not necessarily corporate liberty). There are parts of the healthcare law I don’t like but I really, truly believe that certain aspects of the law will improve the lives of Americans without infringing on personal liberties. In Part One I’ll be exclusively discussing the hotly debated birth control section of the law.
First I’d like to address the “taxpayer funded birth control” er, myth. It’s not exactly a myth so much as a misdirection. Actually, your taxes have always paid for birth control in the form of medicare/medicaid tax, so the fact that it will continue to do so is more or less irrelevant. It’s likely that the idea of the (now copay-free) birth control being footed by the state was the result of misinterpretations regarding the Obama Administration’s 2011 recommendations regarding birth control implementation in healthcare reform (namely that it should be totally free and easily available). This was only a recommendation and was NOT enacted in the law. There is no universal birth control healthcare for all women that is state funded. It doesn’t exist.
Second, health insurance companies covering birth control saves taxpayers a huge amount of money by reducing the number of unplanned children. Besides the obvious fact that having fewer unplanned children means fewer of those children on medicaid, giving women the opportunity to establish a career before having children also means fewer families on food assistance, TANF, et cetera. For example, in Texas, cutting money from family planning centers will eventually increase the welfare burden in that state by $200 million. There is no reason to think that the inverse wouldn’t be true—that by requiring that insurances cover birth control, the overall welfare burden would also be lessened.
Welfare programs make up a relatively small part of of the federal budget (12%) but eliminating even a small portion of that represents a significant decrease in the tax burden. Any reasonable steps we can make to do that should be taken.
Ultimately, while I disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court to force the purchase of health insurance (which I’ll get to later), the outcome of the birth control mandate will lead to increased self-sufficiency in the population and in turn, lower taxes. This is one part of increasing personal liberty for everyone; by compelling insurers to provide benefits that allow half the workforce to more easily delay birth until they are financially able to raise a child with their own means, the other half of the work force financially benefits as well.