Marvel with me as King Barack's Lord of Affordable Care, in an interview yesterday on PBS Newshour, attempts to explain how her edict mandating free contraception and pharmaceutical abortion for all will simultaneously 1) save a typical woman "up to $600, which is a substantial financial barrier"; 2) not be paid for by religious institutions since "actually, this is a no-cost benefit"; and 3) is a no-brainer for insurers since implementing her holy writ "could reduce an insurance plan by about 15 percent."
RAY SUAREZ: Secretary, can we talk about mechanics? If you've just taken a new job at a religiously based hospital or university, your employee paperwork is silent on reproductive health care, what happens next?
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: Well, typically, if you are a new employee and in an insured plan, the insurance company or the variety of insurance companies are the ones who actually publish the benefit package.
So, in this case, again, the insurance company would be reaching out to employees, making it clear that it is their choice whether to access contraceptive benefits. And what we know, Ray, is that actually this is a no-cost benefit, that the National Business Council on Health, that our actuaries, a variety of people in group plans say having contraception as part of a group insurance plan actually lowers the overall cost, doesn't increase it, because, on balance, preventive services around family planning, avoiding what may be unhealthy pregnancies, avoiding the health consequences of that actually is a cost reducer.
So we have a situation where the insurance companies directly offer this benefit to the women employees, and the religious employer doesn't pay for it, doesn't refer to it, and doesn't have to offer it.
RAY SUAREZ: You say money from the religious institutions doesn't pay for this, but isn't money fungible?
If a Catholic nonprofit is paying for your insurance coverage, isn't it paying for contraception if you are getting the coverage through that same insurer?
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: Well, again, Ray, in this case, actuaries have looked at this benefit.
The federal employees health plan, when contraception was added to federal employees' benefit, which is the largest employee group in the country, costed this as no cost, free, no cost, because adding contraception and having some employees take advantage of that coverage lowers the overall cost of the health plan.
So we have that in place around the country. We have actuaries that have inserted that, and so we're not -- this isn't a shell game of passing the costs along. This is a real no-cost option that is, according to the National Business Council on Health, could reduce an insurance plan by about 15 percent. We're not counting on that.
But I think we can say very safely that this doesn't add to the cost of either the employer's plan -- and we know that women, if they have to purchase this coverage outside of a health plan, could spend up to $600, which is a substantial financial barrier to access a very important health benefit and a benefit used by 99 percent of women across this country at some point in their lives.