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Reader's view: Birth-control mandate saves money in long run

In the April 21 News Tribune, Burke A. Christensen, a health-insurance executive and university law professor, argued against government-mandated birth control (Pro/Con: "Should insurers be forced to pay for contraception? No: A mandate would hik...

In the April 21 News Tribune, Burke A. Christensen, a health-insurance executive and university law professor, argued against government-mandated birth control (Pro/Con: "Should insurers be forced to pay for contraception? No: A mandate would hike prices for everyone"). His argument was crude at times, and if we looked no further than the ends of our noses his claim that a mandate would cost the rest of us seemed likely. The money paid out would come from the pockets of the insured.

Certainly it is likely such coverage would attract more women into the system. To determine how premiums would be affected, we'd need a careful statistical analysis, balancing money brought in by the newly insured against money paid out for birth control. It's at least possible premiums would go down. But Christensen didn't bother with statistics. He only asserted an unverified claim about premium costs.

Moreover, pregnancy, child birth, and the lives of single mothers and one-parent kids all have financial costs society handles when individuals cannot. Some such costs will be paid with tax dollars rather than insurance dollars, but they will be paid. In the larger picture, mandated birth-control coverage would be an investment that would pay us back, each of us, many times over.

It's incredible Christensen couldn't see the larger picture. More likely, he intentionally aimed a careless argument at people he thinks are stupid. In a society running Viagra ads every hour on television and stories about the sexual adventures of men in government on every news program, it's especially discouraging to hear folks of the male persuasion tell women to go it alone in the area of birth control. Christensen was unthoughtful about the financial picture and immoral about the rest.

I applaud the News Tribune for printing the piece. In arguing against mandated birth-control coverage, Christensen, an insurance executive, demonstrated precisely why a mandate is needed.

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Bruce Henricksen

Duluth

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