Availiblity and Expense of Oral Birth Control
For one thing, availability is not a problem at all. It is available practically everywhere in the US and I have to say cost is not very convincing as a barrier either. Planned Parenthood offers oral contraceptives whose cost is determined by a schedule of fees based on income.
But lets assume the party line is correct, that republicans are out there burning down pharmacies and sneaking into bedrooms at night and sticking babies in unsuspecting women’s wombs while they sleep. More seriously, that oral contraceptives are similar in rarity to endangered species and their cost is far to high for anyone who doesn’t make 6 figures a year to afford. If you watch the news, any channel, you might think that the only possible way to bring down cost and increase availability is by mandating that health insurance cover the stuff without actually charging for that coverage. I was under the impression that health insurance was something millions of poor people, ones who might actually be unable to afford birth control, won’t have until 2014, but I may be misinformed. Although, I have actually read a decent chunk of the healthcare bill, at least more of it then any member of congress that i am aware of.
Now I don’t accept that is the only way to increase availability and make it affordable. In fact, there is a large body of evidence out there, if people care to look for it, to support the claim that distancing consumers from the cost of something and placing those costs on third parties, actually increases costs of a particular thing. One has only to look as far as cosmetic and other elective surgeries to see the effects of consumers being saddled with the whole cost of a medical procedure. Those results are that most of those procedures have dropped in cost very quickly and demand has never been higher and continues to grow.
What I would propose is looking at what actually increases the cost of oral birth control, and we don’t need any deep medical or industry knowledge to look at this either. You have a manufacturer, a doctor, and a pharmacist all involved in the process of getting a hold of the stuff. Why? It’s not republicans or democrats or even, dare I say it… CHRISTIANS!!!! The one responsible for that 3 layer process is bureaucracy. The FDA has determined that you need a prescription to get, possess and take oral contraceptives. Of course there are risks, but obviously some people without a doctor, or without the means to see one, are priced out right there, even though Target and others sell the stuff for as little as $9 a month and apparently $4 in some places. A nice simple way to fix that problem it for the FDA to smarten up and realize that a pharmacist can just as effectively question a woman about blood clots and the other things that make taking the meds risky and deal it out right there.
Even better would be to cut out the pharmacist also, smack a 16 year old (or whatever) age requirement on it and let people read the warnings and be responsible for their own risk taking. I only mention an age limit because obviously we don’t want children buying the stuff before they are old enough to actually make rational decisions about their own health, not because I give a shit about at what age kids are having sex or even have an opinion on the matter.
So there, assuming Target and Wal-Mart stayed at <$9 dollars (apparently less than a box of tampons not that know anything about them other then that women’s issue isn’t covered by insurance either) and makers could keep up with demand, you have cut out two highly paid and likely unneeded intermediaries, made the stuff more available, not induced any parental notification requirements and by almost any reasonable standard eliminated the problems. However, for some reason women’s health is a sacred cow. The idea that women have to pay anything for any issue particular to women seems to be something you will get raked over the coals for suggesting. No one seems to mind that men are charged more for car insurance. Why not? Because men cost car insurance companies more money, just as women cost their health insurance companies more money.
If the problem is cost and availability than there are lots of things, just one of which I have mentioned that the government could do. none of the reasonable options include forcing anyone to pay for other peoples optional activities. If optional activities now have to have medical preventative measure covered free of charge by insurance, then when will they start buying life jacket and bike helmets for people? Last time I checked, drowning and smashed heads were actually more serious medical conditions then most STD’s and pregnancy.