Exaggerations and outright misrepresentations about the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate have been appearing in White House “fact sheets” and mainstream media. The Catholic News Service addresses some of the more frequently cited claims and the facts to counter them:
Myth: Self-insurance is a seldom-used method of providing health insurance to employers, used mainly by church organizations to avoid having to pay for abortions or birth control.
Fact: A majority of Americans who have private health insurance are in self-insured plans, according to separate reports by the Congressional Research Service and the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. The percentage was 44 percent in 1999, 55 percent in 2008 and had increased to 60 percent by 2011.
Employees in large companies (those with 200 or more employees) were even more likely to be covered by a self-insured plan. Eighty-two percent of workers at large firms — and 96 percent of those who work for a company with 5,000 or more workers — were in a self-insured health plan.
There is no precise count of how many of the employees working for Catholic organizations or institutions are in self-insured plans, but the number is believed to mirror that of the general population.
Myth: Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women have used contraceptives.
Fact: The figure comes from an April 2011 Guttmacher Institute report based on the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth. Twenty-five percent of the respondents to the survey self-identified as Catholics, but 40 percent of those said they never attended Mass or attended less frequently than once a month.
The survey looked at women between the ages of 15 and 44 and asked about contraceptive use only among those who had had sex in the three months prior to the survey and were not pregnant, postpartum or trying to get pregnant. Ninety percent of those women — and 98 percent of the Catholic respondents — said they had used some form of contraception at least once in their lives.
The survey did not ask the women about their current contraceptive usage.