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You know we have entered the silly season when a major national debate gets underway over whether people should be given something for free that they could easily pay for out-of-pocket. Take the decision of the Obama administration to force Catholic universities, hospitals and charities to provide health insurance that includes free contraceptives. The reaction was poignant and hyperbolic, but (what can I say?) completely deserved:

What makes this so amazing is that it is déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra might say. Do you remember the death knell for HillaryCare? I bet you can’t.

Mammograms and Pap smears. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

[Yes, I know. There were many things that helped derail HillaryCare. The biggest mistake was the White House's failure to throw everything aside and endorse the Senate Republican health plan, which was about as close to HillaryCare as RomneyCare is to ObamaCare. Hillary would have ended up with about 90% of everything she wanted. More about that, perhaps, in a future Alert.]

But what really killed the whole thing in the public’s mind were mammograms and Pap smears. Fifteen years ago the “experts” didn’t agree on how frequently women should have them any more than they agree today. I’m sure that when various women asked various doctors they got various answers. And, by the way, there is nothing wrong with that. Whenever there is risk and uncertainty, opinions will differ. That’s not the end of the world.

What was the end of HillaryCare, however, was the notion that the White House should decide these questions for every woman in America! When you stop to think about it, that takes a certain amount of chutzpah. It also reflects a degree of meddlesomeness that’s really hard for me to understand. But in both the Clinton White House and in the Obama White House there were folks who just could not abide the idea of your having a health plan different from the one they think you should have — down to the tiniest detail!

For Hillary and her advisers it came down to this: They decided that sexually active women should have a cervical cancer test every three years, instead of every two. For women in their fifties, they called for a mammogram every other year, instead of every year. And these decisions, unfortunately for Clinton, were different from what most doctors were recommending.

[The technical folks, by the way had fun with all of this. Cost-effectiveness numbers at the time suggested that Hillary’s cut-off number was about $100,000 for each year of life saved. If the projection comes in below that number, do the test. Above that number avoid it. Interested readers may consult my discussion of this issue here. I don’t think this facet of the problem ever got on anyone’s radar screen outside of the number crunching community; however, and I doubt that Hillary was even aware of it.]

Now the right way to think about all this is very simple. How much does a mammogram cost? $100? If you want one, take the money out of your Health Savings Account and go buy it. How often should you do that? Probably as often as it gives you peace of mind. Is not having the test keeping you awake at night? Then spend $100 and get the test. The same principle applies to contraceptives. You want them? Go buy them.

And what about the tiny, tiny, tiny portion of the population that really can’t afford these services? Go to a community health center or to Planned Parenthood and ask for them for free! This isn’t rocket science.

It is truly amazing how much consternation is caused for no other reason than the desire on the part of some people to tell everybody else how to live their lives.

John C. Goodman, PhD, is president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis. He is also the Kellye Wright Fellow in health care. His Health Policy Blog is considered among the top conservative health care blogs where health care problems are discussed by top health policy experts from all sides of the political spectrum.

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86 Responses for “A Better Way to Avoid Pregnancy”

  1. Peter1 says:

    Well I Goggled Fox News reporting on priest sex abuse and school sex abuse, not much difference between the two in numbers of pages – and Fox is on your side.

    As for the publishing of the story about the government report on educational sex abuse I don’t know how many times you can run the same story on the same report to equal what the Catholic Register considers fairness when reporting about multiple priest/church abuse stories. Certainly these things are reported as they happen in schools – and it was the LA Times that reveled their front page investigation in 2009.

    As well how do you accuse the “media” of not reporting Democratic wrongs and only Republican wrongs – if they’re not reported. Do you have secret a knowledge file that the press is suppressing? Certainly Fox News would be all over this. As for Republicans, especially the holy crusade kind, I think it’s fair game as they and the story would be more news worthy because they are always standing up for “family values”. Usually those who throw stones in glass houses are more newsy, and that would apply to Democrats as well.

    So, is Fox News and the rest of Rupert Mudock’s media biased? Is Rush Limbaugh biased? 700 Club?, Wall Street Journal, and all the other right wing news media? I think your point of view has lots of soap boxes.

  2. Nate Ogden says:

    “As well how do you accuse the “media” of not reporting Democratic wrongs and only Republican wrongs”

    Go back to school and learn to read Peter.

    “You see this all the time when the media fails to report someone that did something wrong was a democrat but when a republican does the same thing party affiliation is in the headline. “

    • Peter1 says:

      But that’s just you talking Nate. Show me examples of this as a wide spread effort. Even better show me hidden crimes of Democrats that the “media” won’t report.

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