Posted on | March 7, 2012 by Lucia Muchova |
One of this week’s blog posts in the American Thinker contains the following opening statement: “Slowly but surely, the Obama administration is introducing the general public to the idea that fewer people born translates into health care cost savings.”
With the HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ testimony during the FY 2013 HHS Budget hearing in mind, the blog’s opening statement hits the nail on the head.
When Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) asked Secretary Sebelius who was going to pay for the “free” birth control in the new HHS mandate, she stated that: “The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception.”
Rep. Murphy responded: “So you are saying, by not having babies born, we are going to save money on health care?” Secretary Sebelius replied, “Providing contraception is a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children.”
Making sure he was speaking on the record, Murphy concluded, “Not having babies born is a critical benefit. This is absolutely amazing to me. I yield back.”
The idea is that reducing the number of pregnancies will save more government money than the amount it spends on birth control.
Secretary Sebelius is definitely not the only one espousing this cost-saving idea.
The most recent report of the Brookings Institution shows that expansion of family planning through Medicaid “saves” the taxpayers $1.32billion annually. This number is contrasted with other birth preventive measures such as media campaigns or teenage programs advocating protected sex or abstinence. The former “saves” $431million and the latter $356million: both far less than Medicaid funded birth control.
But what costs exactly are we saving?
The Public Cost of Pregnancy, another Brookings paper, provides good guidance:
The cost of publicly-subsidized prenatal care.
The publicly-subsidized medical cost of the outcome itself (i.e., the cost of a delivery for a live birth or of medical treatment for a fetal loss).
The cost of publicly-subsidized postpartum medical care. This category of costs applies only to publicly-subsidized births, and it accounts for near-term medical costs that are incurred on behalf of the mother in the wake of a birth.
The cost of providing publicly-subsidized benefits and services for a child. This category of costs also applies only to births, and we focus on the cost of publicly-provided medical care for income-eligible infants under the age of one and on the cost of numerous other government benefits that are provided to eligible children under the age of five.
Supposedly, these costs only apply to unintended, mistimed or unwanted pregnancies.
Yet, in an environment where pregnancy is treated as if it was a disease to be prevented, many pregnancies are likely to be undesirable.