Why it's moronic for men to complain about paying for maternity coverage

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Before Obamacare, insurers did exclude maternity coverage from individual plans. In 50 percent of states you couldn't purchase maternity care. http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/

Reader Sarah Crowley responds to What Paul Ryan doesn't get about mental health (is everything):

There's not a single insurance company that provides ala carte coverage. It doesn't exist because it would essentially eliminate the risk pool.

Health insurance, like all insurance, works by pooling risk. Young/healthy people subsidize the old/sick. Childless people subsidisize pediatric care.

Paying for medical coverage you might not need is indeed the point of insurance -- so that it is not prohibitively expensive when you or someone you love does need it. No one is likely to need all of it, but we will all need some of it eventually.

So, you resent having to pay for maternity care. Insurance covers Viagra, prostate cancer tests, and the heart attack and high blood pressure you are many times more likely to suffer than women.

What about women past child-bearing age, women who are unable to get pregnant, women who choose not to have children, women who don't have sex with men, women who aren't "at risk" of getting pregnant? If the only people who pay for prenatal healthcare are those who might get pregnant at any moment, good luck creating a fiscally viable insurance policy for that.

Once you start segmenting the market so that only those vulnerable to a specific condition buy coverage for that condition, the cost of that coverage skyrockets. Sliced/diced/spliced ala carte health care would nearly eliminate the risk pool and the idea of insurance falls apart.

Before the ACA, insurers did exclude maternity coverage from individual plans. In 50 percent of states you couldn't purchase maternity care. In most of the rest, you could buy a maternity rider on your policy. In many cases it cost more than the main policy itself, and you couldn't use it for at least a year after you bought it. It often has a separate deductible up to 5k. If you didn't have coverage prior to getting pregnant, you could be denied for a preexisting condition, so if you became unexpectedly pregnant, no coverage. And, last I checked, men are involved in the procreation process.

Cross-subsidies like this are a part of life in a society, and are not limited to health insurance. Public education is paid for by families with kids in school as well as those whose kids graduated 20 years ago, or who educated their kids privately, or who never had kids.

That's because education is a social good, like health. Everybody pays for highways, even those who don't drive. Same goes for police services, fire services, etc. 

 


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