justices

1. Does health insurance covering contraception actually cost anything?

In this article about a renewed fight at the U.S. Supreme Court just days after its decision about whether the owners of the Hobby Lobby retail chain had to buy insurance covering certain forms of contraception, the New York Times’ ace court reporter Adam Liptak wrote:

The majority opinion there, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., seemed to suggest that the forms could play a role in an arrangement that was an acceptable alternative to having employers pay for the coverage. Under the arrangement, insurance companies that receive the forms pay for the coverage on the theory that it costs no more to provide contraception than to pay for pregnancies.

Read the sentence I put in italics.

Obamacare was only passed after President Barack Obama and the bill’s lead sponsors in the House of Representatives and Senate agreed to a compromise to assuage religious groups opposed to contraception.

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Sotomayor answers questions during final day of testimony at her confirmation hearings in WashingtonUnder the compromise, religious organizations could not be forced to pay for insurance that included contraception. Instead, the insurance companies would include the coverage separately, at their own cost. The Hobby Lobby case was about whether privately owned businesses with the same qualms about contraception could claim the exemption.

At the time the law was passed, and then after the Hobby Lobby case was brought, I wondered why an insurance company would agree to provide some coverage for free.