Monday, August 3, 2009

Maternity Care for Men

There has been a lot of outcry from a few of my female readers over my stance that single males should not have to pay for maternity coverage in their insurance premiums. Some of the comments that I have received include the following:
  • Some claim that expectant mothers will not be taken care of if the mandates are eliminated, because the insurance concept of "pooled risk" goes away.
  • Accusations that I am actively attempting to keep mothers from receiving care.
  • One reader asked me if I "really think that it's not in the best interest of the whole country to take care of expecting mothers."
  • The same reader from the previous point also stated that "sex discrimination should not have a place in health care."
  • Almost all have noted that women pay for things like prostate treatment even though they don't have prostates, so why is it a big deal if men pay for maternity care?
Let me first explain my reasoning behind my stance. I will start with saying that my goal, as I have said before, is quality health insurance for every United States citizen. I am not attempting to prevent anyone from getting health insurance. I am simply trying to do it in a way that actually works. In the spirit of helping everyone obtain health insurance, if states did not mandate that single men must be covered for maternity care then an insurance company could lower its prices for certain plans. I honestly don't know if women's plans cover prostate exams, but the same goes for them. Lower prices equals more affordability. More affordability means more people can get health insurance. Once that single man gets married then he can add in maternity care for his wife if she goes on his insurance plan, because he then needs it. I think I can clarify many things by taking the above objections and comments one by one:

1. Expectant mothers will not be taken care of if the maternity mandate goes away.
Absolutely not. If you are a woman trying to have a child or a married man whose wife is included in your insurance plan then you simply add that coverage to your insurance plan and start paying for it. This will not undermine the insurance concept of "pooled risk," as some readers have claimed, because insurance companies factor all of the risks in when calculating individual premiums. If single men are needed to pay higher prices into the "pool" for maternity coverage then why aren't younger people required to pay higher premiums for the care of the elderly, even though younger people don't use most of the same services? Why don't we all just pay the exact same premiums? The reason is that we do not all share the same risks. There is zero chance that an insurance company will have to pay money to cover a man having a child and zero chance that a woman needs a prostate exam. Neither should have to pay for them.

2. Accusations that I am actively attempting to keep mothers from receiving care.
This is simply false. I already stated that my goal is for everyone to have health insurance. I also believe that individuals should be responsible for their own health care. If you think that health care is a right then I must ask you the following question. Is eating a right? I have heard people who believe health care is a right say that every person has the right to be alive and healthy and therefore has a right to health care. Then why isn't eating a right? We need food to live and be healthy, so why does the government not provide food for all of us? What about water as well? We need that too. The bottom line is that I want everyone to have care, but a woman or couple trying to have a child should pay for their maternity coverage in their premiums. If you cannot afford that then what makes you think you can afford to feed, clothe and care for a child?

3. Do I "really think that it's not in the best interest of the whole country to take care of expecting mothers."
Everyone knows that you should not smoke or drink while you are pregnant, right? If it is in the best interest of the whole country to take care of expectant mothers then all women should be required to take a pregnancy test when they try to buy alcohol or cigarettes or other things that are potentially harmful to pregnant women. Consuming any of them could harm both mother and child and therefore not be in the best interest of the whole country, correct? Many women don't find out that they are pregnant until a month or two after conception, so we must protect them. After all, it is in the best interest of the whole country to take care of expectant mothers, right?

I think many women would be outraged at the prospect of having to take a pregnancy test before buying cigarettes, alcohol or other products. They would feel that their liberty is being infringed upon. Liberty is a principle with broad reach, and it is not a fluid concept. One cannot change the definition of liberty based on the situation. Liberty means that Americans should be free to do most things that do not infringe upon the lives of others. This includes the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail. It is in the best interest of expectant mothers to care for their own children. The government has no responsibility to care for your child and neither do I. You have a responsibility to care for it. If you cannot care for it then do not have one.

3. "Sex discrimination should not have a place in health care."
Okay, then I want to see a gynecologist right now, because my health insurance covers it! I also want a mammogram, and I want a pregnancy consultation. If sex discrimination does not have a place in health care then no one can tell me that I cannot have these things. Ladies, let's say you find a lump in your breast. You go to the doctor for a mammogram and you find a bunch of men in the waiting room. Each one of them, one by one, is called by the nurse and heads into the screening room. You are worried sick that you may have breast cancer, and here are a bunch of men getting mammograms before you, because "sex discrimination should not have a place in health care." The fact is that sex discrimination does not take place in health care in the sense that the commenter asserts. Health care is based on need. I don't need maternity coverage any more than a woman needs a prostate exam. Neither party should have to pay for these respective procedures.

I think I've already covered women paying for prostate exams, so there's no need to elaborate much. With this whole issue of maternity care people don't seem to realize that I was using that one example to illustrate a larger point. The simple fact is that women should not pay for prostate exams either. Men should pay for them. If we eliminated many of the burdensome insurance mandates that states impose then we could make health insurance and health care more affordable.


  1. I am a female reader, and I agree - I think that you should be able to elect certain types of coverage and drop others - customize your plan to meet your needs - a single man doesn't need maternity coverage, and neither does a woman who has gone thru menopause or had a hysterectomy - and for that matter, neither does an elderly couple who does need other forms of care that, in general, a 20- or 30-something would not need... if healthcare focused more on prevention (instead of being reactionary), was tailored to meet the individual's needs, and was not controlled by government it would drive down the costs for everyone

  2. The problem with this is that it's not just the individual mother's needs, it's mom and baby. Now you have placed 100% of the cost burden of delivering EVERY baby on 50% of the population. What if the baby is a boy? Shouldn't he have to contribute to the cost of his birth when he's older?

  3. @Sarah not quite.. the cost of insurance here should mitigate the risk of COMPLICATIONS and extreme circumstances when caring for the mother and baby from conception, to birth, through the new-born well-baby visits that are generally included in programs. For example, my last baby had no complications, and was a fairly quick labor and delivery. Relatively speaking, it was an inexpensive ordeal for the insurance provider.

    Now, compare that to a few of the special needs babies that some of my close friends have had, and the comparative price tag on those deliveries was huge. Surgeries, consultations, lab tests, follow-up visits, hospital stays, medications... I think you get the picture.

    @All To play devil's advocate here, the "risk pool" including ALL people, and not just those "potentially able to conceive" DOES further dilute the risk. Does society find this acceptable or not is another question...

  4. the problem is that single men have the perceived behavior of running around impregnating single women. While this is an exaggerated notion, not all single men are responsible enough to keep it in their pants let alone be honest about it on a form that determines whether or not they can save hundreds or thousands of dollars.

    It's a byproduct of a society that has lost its sense of shame, its moral compass and the ability to determine right from wrong. So we all suffer equally.

  5. @Ben I take your point, but what I'm hearing from Patrick is that you, as a father, should not be financially responsible for the position that you have put your partner in - since he seems to be saying that men have no role in maternity care.
    I also reminded Patrick in a private email that "everyone who has ever been born" has required maternity care. Sorry single guys - that includes you too. In fact, maternity care is the most widely used service around the world because EVERYONE NEEDS IT. Labor/delivery is the one medical procedure that everyone has. It is also the least well-funded and least well-researched. Doesn't make sense to me.
    Following up to @Jac -couldn't agree more, you don't have to have a job and a wife to have a kid.

  6. The problem is the government blows and can't do anything right(Social Security, Post Office, Medicare, Medicaid)

  7. I happen to be in the market for maternity care because my company decided to dump the coverage they have been offering, when I am 5 months pregnant (well, I will be when the coverage ends). The reason I found this posting was because I am interested in finding out the following: Why isn't my husband's insurance policy, which offers maternity coverage, able to help mitigate the cost of my maternity care? I understand it is called maternity care, but isn't at least part of the point of the doctor's monitoring to ensure the safety of the baby? Shouldn't this also be "fetus care", and didn't my husband contribute to that fetus being there (I know, I know, you don't KNOW that he did, but trust me, it was him)? So, if my husband's policy offers maternity care, my argument is that it should help cover the cost of him having a child. For that matter, until an effective method of birth control (aside from sterilization) is developed for men, shouldn't my husband have the option of paying for the prevention of children in his relationship - hence paying for the birth control I would take?

    For the record, no, I am not on his plan at this time, since 1. we weren't sure we were going to try having children this year and 2. we had no clue my work was going to drop a bombshell on us.


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