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So now we see how the Obama administration proposes to preserve the religious freedom of religiously-affiliated employers like hospitals, schools and charities while requiring all health insurance plans to include abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraception. According to the “ fact sheet ” released this afternoon by the White House, “Religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage” or “subsidize the cost of contraception.” Nevertheless, the insurance companies with which religious employers contract to provide health insurance for their employees “will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.”

This is economic nonsense. Insurance companies have no money to pay for such benefits for the affected employees except from premiums they charge the employers who purchase coverage for their employees. So, one way or another, the employers are paying for the products to which they object. For example, suppose that, under the old rule, a religious employer would have had to pay $5,000 per employee annually for coverage including contraception. Under the new rule, the employer may elect to buy a policy that says that it omits such coverage. But the insurer has to provide the coverage anyway, and it may not charge the employee for it. How will it pay for the coverage? Obviously by building that cost into the price it charges the religious employer. Hence, the new policy will cost the employer the same $5,000 per employee that the old one did.

Under the old rule, the employer had to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraception. Under the new rule, the employer has to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraception, but President Obama will say that it doesn’t, and we’ll believe him. That fixes everything. And to think, some people accuse President Obama of empty rhetoric.

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