News - Should insurers be able to ‘opt out’ of mandated tests and treatments?

No. Women and children will suffer at the loss of such services

Why are legislators trying to dismantle insurance “mandates” that include screenings for cancers that affect women, minimal hospital care after mastectomies and childbirth, and cost-saving measures like allowing women to go directly to a gynecologist when they need one?

It’s sexism. Now, before you recoil like Rush Limbaugh at the Vagina Monologues, think about why we need the state to enforce these particular services in the first place, while even unnecessary stuff for guys doesn’t need to be mandated because insurers just cover it automatically. Stuff like Viagra, which is not necessary for men’s health. No, really, it isn’t.

Mandates are a response to gross inequities that have existed in the insurance industry for a long time, just because they could. “The glaring omissions are things related to women’s health, particularly the parts of our bodies that make us women and mothers,” explains Vicki McLennon, who lobbies for chapters of Georgia NOW and helped pass several mandates.

No matter how much insurers weep into their hankies about being forced to raise rates because they aren’t allowed to make women have their breasts removed in drive-thru clinics anymore, these mandates don’t drive up costs: cancer treatments and preemie care and heart disease from smoking are the things driving up health costs. So why wouldn’t the industry and legislators see the long-term benefits in preventing cancers and unplanned pregnancies, and screening for childhood disorders?

If you were at the Capitol debating these issues, you’d probably be less skeptical about the idea that certain sexist notions overwhelmed rational discussion of the cost benefits of screening for breast cancers and such. Some legislators worried that giving women unfettered access to gynecologists would encourage overuse of gynecological services. I won’t even make a joke about that.

Then there was the charming guy on the Insurance Committee (let’s just say he’s from a place that rhymes with bacon) who hollered that he paid for his wife’s damn birth control pills, so other men can pay for theirs.

And, as always, there were moments of courage, like the doctor who risked ostracism to tell his colleagues he’s seeing a silent epidemic of chlamydia destroying girls’ bodies in rural Georgia and the senator who bravely fought for the breast cancer bill while his wife fought the disease.

Health care costs are an emergency. Reinstating inequity against women and children may seem tempting, but it wouldn’t even work (plus, there’s that immorality thing).

Instead, we should create state insurance pools covering small businesses. It’s logical, and it works.??

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