Indeed, reading a transcript of Fluke's testimony, one would hardly make the connection between birth control and sex. Fluke told of a friend who was ill-treated by the insurance company who refused to cover the birth control medication to treat ovarian cysts. In this case, the Georgetown policy actually covered the prescription for non-contraceptive purposes, but for whatever reason the insurance company disputed her claim. Serious medical complications resulted after her friend stopped spending the $100+ per month out of pocket for the prescription. If the insurance company truly denied a legitimate claim, it should be called to account, and since Georgetown is a law school after all, there should be plenty of opportunity to file a lawsuit. But did this 32-year old woman seriously have no other options (family, credit card, public health facility) other than giving up a prescription she knew was vital to her health? And in any case, the story says more about the insurance company claims process than it does about birth control coverage since the policy included coverage for non-contraceptive reasons.
The most heart-rending story involved a woman who had been raped and did not even go to the doctor because she said "she knew birth control wasn’t covered, and she assumed that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handled all of women’s sexual healthcare." Were the police even called after this woman was assaulted? Surely they would have provided information that would have dispelled such a misguided notion and gotten her the medical attention she desperately needed and that her insurance would surely have covered. At a minimum, the federal Violence Against Women Act requires states to provide a forensic medical exam to sexual assault victims free of charge. This story is horribly tragic, but again, it says less about birth control insurance coverage than it does about the woman's family and friends whose apparent ignorance did this woman a grave disservice.
So what about this coverage that Georgetown students are offered? Georgetown University lists details about student health insurance on the Student Affairs section of their website. Students are given the opportunity to obtain coverage through the school, or they can maintain other coverage if it meets certain minimum criteria as follows:
You may waive the Premier Plan offered by the University during the Open Enrollment Period, if you have other adequate health insurance which meets the following criteria:
Note what is missing. Students are not required to certify that "my plan does not cover birth control." Students may maintain their own policy with whatever coverage is provided as long as it meets those three simple criteria. They are not being forced into Georgetown's plan in spite of the impression left by Fluke.
- Coverage of at least $100,000 per illness and $100,000 per injury;
- Plan in effect no later than the last day or your applicable Open Enrollment Period; and
- Plan will remain in effect for the remainder of your academic year.
But what if a student goes with the school's plan? The Premier Plan policy indeed excludes birth control. It also excludes, among other things, any type of treatments for infertility for both men and women (see page 29.) Is Georgetown anti-baby as well as anti-women? Is this another example, as Fluke puts it, where "a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body"? Nonsense. Decisions about coverage and benefits are based on a broad criteria including risk, demographics, and cost, not the whims of employers or insurance company underwriters.
And what about the cost? Fluke testified that birth control can cost a woman $3,000 during three years of law school, or $1,000/year. So how much does the Georgetown University student health insurance policy cost that according to Fluke should be forced to include contraceptives and birth control free of charge? According to Georgetown University's website, their Premier Plan for a single student has an annual premium of $1,895 (higher for coverage of a spouse and/or children.) Does Fluke seriously believe a contract would be offered to a woman for $1,895/year when over 50% of that premium is guaranteed to be spent on contraceptives? Is our society completely ignorant of the concept of "insurance"?
What is most unfortunate in this week's events is the lost opportunity to show the real agenda behind the Democrat's exploitation of Fluke. Demagogues have hijacked the situation and have used Limbaugh's imprudent language to further cloud the issue and obscure the true threat to religious liberty that the Affordable Care Act and its mandates represent. Perhaps conservatives can again shift the focus now that Limbaugh has offered a rare public apology for his ill-advised attempt at (as Limbaugh puts it) "illustrating absurdity by being absurd." Some die-hards are claiming Limbaugh should not have "backed down," but he did the right thing. And as for Fluke: how about "propagandist?" or "patsy?" or, most charitably, "naive?" Certainly not complimentary names, but at least more polite and infinitely more deserved.