Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have settled on a new injustice built into the system: The law mandates that all plans cover women having babies.
Representative Renee Ellmers got the ball rolling at an October 30 House hearing where she pointedly questioned Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: "As far as the essential health benefits, correct me if I'm wrong, do men not have to buy maternity coverage?" The North Carolina Republican hammered Sebelius from there, ending with, "To the best of your knowledge has a man ever delivered a baby?" Sebelius tried to defend covering maternity care, but it was too late. A "single male, age 32, does not need maternity coverage," Ellmers said.
Plenty of commentators have since argued it's unfair to make insurers cover maternity care. Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers objected in mid-November: "The idea that they think that 50-year-olds should have maternity care is very concerning to me." Writing in The New York Times, Lori Gottlieb (an Atlantic contributing editor) complained that her new individual-market policy would be more expensive and include "maternity coverage (handy for a 46-year-old)"—after she'd intentionally dumped "maternity benefits so that I didn’t have to pay for everyone else’s pregnancies." Harvard economist Greg Mankiw, a former Mitt Romney adviser, asserted: "Having children is more a choice than a random act of nature. People who drive a new Porsche pay more for car insurance than those who drive an old Chevy .... Why isn't having children viewed in the same way?"