Thursday, October 20, 2005

Go Jodi

An October 16th Letter to the Editor in the Hartford Courant titled "Breast-Fed Babies Are Healthier" (at the bottom of the page) got my wife so upset she fired off a counter-Letter to the Editor... and they published it!

Go Jodi: Letter Added To Mothers' Anxiety (middle of page)

ps. Jodi's right -- there are easily a million ways to raise a child, if I'm not killing or abusing it, keep your mouth shut. It also occurs to me that if this woman was right and Breast-fed babies really were that much less likely to result in an insurance claim then I suspect the insurance companies would already be charging us for it.

State Health Insurance Mandates [Reply]

Insurance companies are limitted in their ability to customize their plans because of state mandated benefits. These benefits vary from state to state which is one reason why premiums also vary from state to state. These mandates lead to rent-seeking constituencies, like lactation consultants. Whether or not breast-feeding makes a significant difference in a child's risk profile, it makes sense for the lactation consultant to suggest that it does because, if she's successful in persuading enough voters that it does, then her consulting services could be added to the list of mandated coverages--like aromatherapy is in some states. Once this happens, lactation consultants will be affordable to more people (through their insurance coverage), ultimately increasing the revenue to the lactation consultant. Of course, this also means that everyone's premiums go up.

I think this (and all other forms of rent-seeking) are wrong. What if there were no mandated benefits? If, for example, I had my way and opted out of coverage for risks that I don't take--say drug addiction and diabetes--then the cost of insuring against those risks would only be bourne by people that 1) are insured and 2) admit (or test positive for) those risks. This would bankrupt a lot drug addicts and diabetics. While the societal impact would be a reduction in drug addicts, it would not reduce the number of type 1 diabetics and, therein, lies the moral hazard. Basically, we need a system that requires all policy holders to share the burden of type 1 diabetes and some portion of type 2 diabetes, but let's us opt out of coverage for risks like drug addiction.

Comment by McCoy (12/15/2006 15:54)

[Reply]

This is not the only isolated "incident" where a lactation consultant has offered a partisan viewpoint on this issue. Although the author claims to base their arguement on known and acertainable research "facts" it is their malign interpretation of this evident, no doubt focused by their partisan agenda that essentially sets their straw-man logic on fire. The very construction and jutaposition of the authors sentences and wording leads me to strongly suspect this is nothing more then a cause of flawed logic. Case in point, note the following sentenances from the author, "Let employers and insurance companies have lower insurance premiums and co-pays for employees whose children are breast-fed. There would be much less asthma, cardiovascular disease and obesity, to name a few disorders, if infants were exclusively breast-fed, as the American Academy of Pediatrics and several other major health organizations recommend.

Millions of health care dollars could be saved. Fewer women would be absent from work tending to children who are ill. These statements are backed by ample, well-done research. Affordable health care starts with breast-feeding."

The authors assertion that a healthcare crisis is willing being perpetrated by whom they look down on as irresponsible mothers is a discredit to this authors profession. It would be interesting to study what is the official position of the International Lactate Consultant Organization www.ilca.org or other simular organizations and ask them the question, "If a mother simply can not breast-feed then what is my alternative as a mother?" Should I let me child starve in the interest of medical insurance premiums? They need to be caution about the crossing the line from support to promotion of an agenda less they loose their non-profit status.

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