Yesterday, the House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee’s vote in favor of allowing for a religious exemption in regards to New Hampshire’s contraception insurance mandate.
Overall, the contraception insurance mandate is poor public policy for the following reasons:
- First, this mandate is an affront to those residents whose religion instructs them to oppose the use of contraception, especially among Roman Catholics who constitute approximately 24 percent of New Hampshire’s population. Being forced to pay for a contraception mandate violates their religious freedom.
- Secondly, insurance mandates drive up the costs of health insurance (pdf) for everyone. To the extent that having health insurance improves health outcomes, higher costs will mean fewer people with health insurance and, consequently, poorer health outcomes.
- Finally, insurance mandates violate the sovereignty of the consumer. Consumers should have a choice in terms of what kind of services they want covered under their insurance policy. Mandates, by definition, narrow the variety of options that insurance companies can offer and, consequently, short circuits the free-market.
Therefore, while the religious exemption addresses one important problem of the contraception insurance mandate, policymakers should also consider the other problems of insurance mandates and eliminate the contraception mandate entirely.