August 8, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Health Affairs, the Huffington Post and more.
PREGNANCY AND MATERNITY CARE: "Having a Baby: Media Confusion Over Charges, Costs, and the Benefits of Insurance," Marc Berk/Claudia Schur, Health Affairs blog: A recent NBC piece on the expenses related to giving birth "confused the very different concepts of what health care providers charge, what they are actually paid, and what consumers owe, and in so doing obscured one of the key benefits for consumers of being insured," Berk and Schur, both health policy experts, write, noting that the NBC piece gave much higher estimates of delivery costs than other sources have estimated. They explain that NBC's estimates failed to take into account how "the provider's charge does not include the discount negotiated by both public and private payers, and [how], for those with coverage, the 'charge' is usually not relevant," adding that the media in general tends not to discuss how being insured brings value "not just in having coverage but in facing initially lower prices." They urge members of the media to distinguish between "cost and charge," writing that while "an informed decision will require a considerable time investment on the part of consumers," it is not acceptable for the media "to imply that 'what you pay' is several times greater than it really is" (Berk/Schur, Health Affairs blog, 8/6).
What others are saying about pregnancy and maternity care:
~ "Surrogacy is a Mess," Jessica Grose, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "Why We Need More Research on Antidepressants During Pregnancy and Beyond," Catherine Pearson, Huffington Post blogs.
CONTRACEPTION: "Depriving Women of Contraceptive Care Is Bad Business," Jeffrey Hollender, Huffington Post blogs: Opponents of the federal contraceptive coverage rules claim that the requirement "imposes a financial burden on employers and insurers," writes Hollender, CEO and co-founder of Sustain, a group that manufactures "Fair Trade, sustainable condoms." In fact, "available evidence suggests strongly that coverage of contraception without patient out-of-pocket costs should not raise insurance costs and is likely a cost-savings," Hollender writes, citing several studies and reports that back that conclusion (Hollender, Huffington Post blogs, 8/5).
SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES: "Expand FMLA -- Good for Women, Good for Families, Good for All," Linda Meric, Huffington Post blogs: Meric, national executive director of 9to5, writes that August 5 was the "21st anniversary of the implementation of the Family and Medical Leave Act," which "provides an important moment to examine how far our nation has come since President Clinton signed FMLA into law in 1993 and how far we still need to go." She continues, "Since its inception, FMLA has been used more than 100 million times, helping 35 million people keep their jobs and health insurance while they cared for a family health crisis or a new baby." However, leave taken under the law "is generally unpaid" and subject to "eligibility and use restrictions," meaning that "many who qualify for it can't afford to take it, others suffer financially when they do, and millions more who'd like to benefit from it are excluded." She concludes, "It's time to celebrate the FMLA by expanding it to benefit women, to benefit families, to benefit all of us" (Meric, Huffington Post blogs, 8/5).
What others are saying about supporting working families:
~ "New Statistics: Pregnancy Discrimination Claims Hit Low-Wage Workers Hardest," Brigid Schulte, Washington Post's "She The People."
GLOBAL: "France Just Passed a Sweeping Gender Equality Law To Make it Easier To Get an Abortion," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress": As part of "the most comprehensive women's rights legislation in the history of France," the women in the nation "can now end a first-trimester pregnancy for any reason -- and the full cost of the abortion will be financed by the government," Culp-Ressler writes. She notes that the new law, which "also includes provisions to provide support for domestic abuse victims" and "encourage[s] paternal leave and a more equal division of childcare," shows that France's "proactive approach to women's equality sharply diverges from the policies in much of the rest of the world, including the" U.S., where there is no guaranteed paid family leave and a wide pay gap between men and women (Culp-Ressler, "Think Progress," Center for American Progress, 8/6).
What others are saying about global issues:
~ "Menstrual Hygiene Must Become a Matter of Public Concern in Zimbabwe," Miriam Mufaro, Huffington Post blogs.
ADOLESCENT HEALTH: "Sex Ed Classes Should Start as Early as Age 10, Researchers Recommend," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": According to new research, "children should start receiving formal instruction about sexual health as early as age 10" to "significantly decrease the rates of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal deaths, and sexually transmitted infections," Culp-Ressler writes. While "kids' sexuality and gender identity typically begin emerging during 'very young adolescence' ... most sexual health programs aren't tailored toward" kids those ages, she explains. In addition, "[i]nstead of providing teens with medically accurate information about their bodies, many public school districts still rely on 'abstinence-only' courses," she notes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 8/5).