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How Republicans Are Trying to Force You to Pay for Others' Religious Beliefs

We shouldn't have to subsidize the antiquated religious beliefs of a small minority.

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According to a study by the Washington Business Group on Health and the employee benefits consulting firm William M. Mercer, “It costs employers 15–17 percent more to not provide contraceptive coverage in employee health plans than to provide such coverage.”

And that analysis understates the savings, because they only weigh the costs of providing birth control against the costs of unplanned pregnancies (whether they end in a birth or an abortion). As the Department of Health and Human Services notes, “when indirect costs such as time away from work and productivity loss are considered, they further reduce the total cost to an employer.”

Global Health Outcomes developed a model that incorporates costs of contraception, costs of unintended pregnancy, and indirect costs. They find that it saves employers $97 per year per employee to offer a comprehensive contraceptive benefit. Similarly, the PwC actuaries state that after all effects are taken into account, providing contraceptive services is “cost-saving.”

Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation claimed that, under the administration's new rules, “employers and employees will still bear the cost of paying for coverage of contraception... because insurance companies will simply pass on the cost of this ‘free’ service with higher premiums to the employer.”

That turns reality on its head -- what Republicans want to do is allow employers to opt out of preventive care that saves money, and the rest of us will bear those costs when insurers pass them on in the form of higher premiums.

So, let's be clear: nobody's religious beliefs are being threatened by including birth control in the basket of preventive services insurers must offer. If your religion compels you to either abstain from sex or have unprotected sex, you're more than welcome to do so and we'll have to content ourselves with hoping that your partner isn't picking up any STDs on the side.

But when it comes to using the power of “big government” to coerce the rest of us into paying higher insurance premiums for those beliefs, well, that's what the separation of church and state is all about. We're just demanding the freedom not to have to pay for your antiquated religious views.  

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America . Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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