How much would it cost to go single payer for birth control?
Someone smarter than me has probably already done all this math, but a quick google didn't light on the answer. It seems like the Republican assault on women's rights is a good opportunity to push back with a progressive alternative, but I don't see any authoritative numbers about how much single payer for just one medicine (The Pill) would cost the US government. So I rounded up some numbers from random places on the web and went with the most pessimistic assumptions I could. The answers (possibly completely wrong) after the squiggle.
There were 150.3 million women in the United States of America as of the 2010 census.
But we don’t need to cover small children, and we don’t need to cover the postmenopausal. So adding up the numbers from this site http://www.census.gov/... I came up with 101,406,805 as the total number of women who could remotely be described as ‘of childbearing age’.
Some percentage of these women will not want to use birth control. Some for religious reasons, some for health reasons, some because they’re trying to have children, some because they prefer other methods, some because they’re celibate, or sterile, or postmenopausal, or just don’t care. But I’m going to be overly cautious and say that this is a minor portion of the female population of childbearing age – let’s say 11%. Round it to 11,406,805 just to make my numbers easy to bat around. That leaves 90 million women who would potentially need birth control coverage.
The Pill costs between $15 and $50 per month. Assuming that the Republicans are assholes and force the government to not negotiate with the drug companies and pay top dollar per year, this would cost $600 per year per woman covered. So that comes out to 54 billion dollars.
We would have to add some administrative costs – there has to be a central distribution system, someone to handle registrations, someone to handle address changes, some computer programs to make sure that people aren’t getting a double prescription, or that we aren’t sending medicine to dead people. Our government is actually quite good at that sort of thing, despite all that the Republicans have been saying about us. But let’s be pessimistic again, and say that it’d take $6 billion in administrative costs to expand the federal Department of Family Planning.
Now where in the world could the government find that much money in the budget? It isn’t as if that much money could disappear…
Oh. What else costs $60 billion dollars?
If the Catholic Church is all-fired-upset about having to pay for birth control, they should get behind the idea that it should be part of a government single-payer health plan system. That way no church money would ever go to support it – churches don’t pay taxes. It would cost around be $60 billion a year at most, or the amount of money that the military lost between the couch cushions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the amount of money that we’ll get back when the Bush tax cuts expire.
If anyone has seen more authoritative numbers, please share them. I'd love to have actual data to sling on this subject.