Much has been made over the contraception mandate rules implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act with many conservative commentators asking why the public should pay for others to have sex. Along with the fallacious characterization of contraception use the controversy’s liberal use of the word “free” in conjunction with it introduces a whole other question. Are the proponents of these provisions really demanding free services or are they just looking to get their money’s worth?
With a show of hands, how many out there pay monthly premiums for health insurance that you hardly use? How many of you have basic, catastrophic care insurance for use only in dire emergencies? How much are you paying for that monthly? Annually? And how much of a deductible did you choose in order to get that monthly premium rate?
On average, in the United States, individuals pay between $183 and $249 per month while families pay between $414 and $527 in monthly premiums. Annual deductibles ranged from $2,935 for individuals to $3,879 for families. These are individual employee contributions, not employers’ contributions to the overall cost of the insurance policies.
Now consider this, you are a relatively healthy person, if you have children, they may get the occasional cold but for the most part they are healthy. Doctor visits are infrequent on the whole. There are preventative care visits, screenings you could go in for but due to co-pays and deductible requirements, choices are made to put them off for another day, another month, another year. With the occasional exception of the inconvenient illness perhaps once a year, you are essentially paying every month for a service you are not using on a regular basis.
Are you getting your money’s worth?
In this particular, financially precarious time, this question becomes more pertinent and worth asking yourself. Are you getting the most out of the money you are putting into the system? This is where the Affordable Care Act comes into play. It’s where the apparent controversy over “free” contraception finds itself. Is contraception free? Are other preventative and basic care provisions free? No. You, as an insurance policyholder, are paying into a system on a monthly basis whether you use it or not.
As the system is set up now, if you partake in those services, you are required to pay an additional amount for those services on top of the monthly payments currently being paid. Furthermore, insurance companies, before the health care reform, spent a large percentage of those consumer premiums on non-medical costs – or the medical loss ratio – such as high pay for management, administrative costs, marketing and, of course, profits for shareholders.
However, now with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act these companies are required to devote at least 80% of those premium dollars to customers’ health care. If this does not occur then the difference is returned to individual in the form of premium discounts or rebate checks beginning this year. The health care reform also requires a number of preventative care services be covered without additional charges to policy holders. These include but are not limited to;
While the controversy rages on with the misinformation feathers a-flyin’ distracting many of us from the realities, the focus is lost among the revolving door recriminations. So much emphasis is placed on who’s paying for what, attempting to direct public anger at one particular group or another but when it comes down to it, the one paying for it is much closer to home. And that is the one who should be asking, “Am I getting my money’s worth, yet?”