Isn’t this wonderful?

More than half of privately insured women are getting free birth control under President Barack Obama’s health law, a major coverage shift that’s likely to advance.

…The share of privately insured women who got their birth control pills without a copayment jumped to 56 percent [in 2013], from 14 percent in 2012. The law’s requirement that most health plans cover birth control as prevention, at no additional cost to women, took full effect in 2013.

The average annual saving for women was $269.

Of course, neither insurance companies nor the government give us things for free. Everything government does is paid for through taxes. I suppose if you pay no taxes it’s free to you, but even then, an insurance company is still (when last I checked) in the business to make money and not give things away.

The birth control mandate, by the way, was not voted on by Congress, not even by the convoluted machinations through which Obamacare itself was passed. The mandate, as well as its reduction in the extent of co-pays, was an administrative HHS decision, based in part on the recommendation of a medical panel known as the IOM [emphasis mine]:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates contraceptive coverage for all employers and educational institutions, even though the mandate itself is not included in the wording of the law(s) passed by Congress. The mandate applies to all new health insurance plans effective August 2012…

On January 20, 2012, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a (then) final rule of an August 1, 2011 interim final rule on health insurance coverage with no cost sharing for FDA-approved contraceptives and contraceptive services (including female sterilization) for women of reproductive age if prescribed by health care providers, as part of women’s preventive health services guidelines adopted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the Affordable Care Act. Male contraception is not eligible.

Regulations made under the act rely on the recommendations of the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) in its July 19, 2011 report Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps…

All of the birth control mandate lawsuits (and Hobby Lobby should more accurately be described as an abortifacient lawsuit) follow from that mandate by HHS, which followed from that report by the IOM. The lawsuits focused on the mandates’ anti-religious aspects, because that was the issue for those particular plaintiffs. But there are other possible objections, such as whether the government should be mandating that something like contraception coverage be “free” (that is, no direct and obvious consumer contribution) for anyone, and especially for those who can afford it, since so far as I can see there is no means test.

You can find the IOM report here. Basically, it seems that HHS asked the IOM to review “what preventive services are important to women’s health and well-being and then [recommend] which of these should be considered in the development of comprehensive guidelines,” and that’s exactly what the group did. Under their recommendations, HHS announced that:

…a full range of preventive services for women, including annual well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, breastfeeding support, HPV testing, STI counseling and HIV screening, contraception methods and counseling, and screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence, will be covered by new health plans without cost sharing.

This is both mandated and for the most part completely covered, so we are all paying for it, and it was never even subjected to a vote by Congress.

And dare I ask: what of men? I understand that only women can get pregnant, and this is a very important aspect of their health care that does not apply to men. But don’t things like HIV, contraception, domestic violence, and STIs apply to men? Do they not deserve some freebies too?

And what of the myriad other health problems we all face? If the socialist camel has gotten his nose in the tent regarding women’s reproductive care, why shouldn’t his whole body and then a whole herd of camels follow? The answer is, of course, that universal “free” coverage has always been the intention of the left. And getting the birth control mandate in there slyly and secretly was the way to go, because Obamacare might never have been passed if its designers and proponents had been upfront and put it in the statute itself.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]