I will tell you right now that this is not how health insurance works my man


Yesterday was International Women’s Day. While women were roaming the streets to The Purge: Anarchy all the men in their paths, members of the House held a marathon session on the new and bad Republican heath care bill. (Congress is a good place for men to hide on International Women’s Day because there aren’t a lot of women there.)

During one of the House panels, Rep. Mike Doyle, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, asked what mandates in the Affordable Care Act Republicans found objectionable, since most of them—like provisions to keep insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions and allowing 26-year-olds to remain on their parent’s insurance—are pretty popular.

Then, Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois replied: “What about men having to purchase prenatal care?”

The exchange went like this:

A very good question. Really, very good.

Nancy Metcalf, a health policy expert at Consumer Reports, had a good answer to this like four years ago when another man had the same objection. I will share that answer with you now (emphasis mine):

Health insurance, like all insurance, works by pooling risks. The healthy subsidize the sick, who could be somebody else this year and you next year. Those risks include any kind of health care a person might need from birth to death—prenatal care through hospice. No individual is likely to need all of it, but we will all need some of it eventually.
So, as a middle-aged childless man you resent having to pay for maternity care or kids’ dental care. Shouldn’t turnabout be fair play? Shouldn’t pregnant women and kids be able to say, “Fine, but in that case why should we have to pay for your Viagra, or prostate cancer tests, or the heart attack and high blood pressure you are many times more likely to suffer from than we are?” Once you start down that road, it’s hard to know where to stop. If you slice and dice risks, eventually you don’t have a risk pool at all, and the whole idea of insurance falls apart.

Unified risk pools are the team work that makes the dream work, baby. As a 59-year-old man, John Shimkus has a roughly 12% chance of getting prostate cancer some time in the next 30 years. I don’t have the same statistical likelihood of getting prostate cancer as John Shimkus, but you don’t hear me saying standard health insurance plans shouldn’t cover prostate cancer.

And, as Metcalf noted back in 2013 to the anonymous man: “Also, presumably at some point you, yourself, were born.”

The same might apply to John Shimkus, Republican from Illinois. Was John Shimkus born at some point?

Whoa if true.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin