Americans typically don’t have the latitude to dictate which medications and health procedures are covered or not covered by their health insurance plans. Most full-time, employed Americans with some kind of standardized health insurance are allowed to select the premium level and/or deductible but not the individual health care items contained within those plans. Some people buy-up al a carte on their health insurance additional coverage on cancer, dental and other specialty areas, but again the decision is whether to purchase the plan, as well as the amount of the deductible and premiums — not to specify what is covered by the plan.

The 31 health insurance plans offered on the federal exchange provided by the Affordable Care Act vary in price and coverage levels but offer standard benefits for medications unless someone is using a stripped-down, grandfathered-in health plan.

That’s why it’s difficult to understand Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s rationale last month, when he said “Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription.” Huckabee reportedly made that statement, which referred to women receiving prescriptions for birth control, during a Republican National Committee meeting — hardly helping the GOP’s attempts to show it isn’t leveling a “War on Women.”

Why does Huckabee, who visited Ottawa in November, want to single out women as part of the health insurance debate? Using birth control health insurance benefits has less to do with a woman’s libido than it does with being smart enough to take advantage of the benefits of the health care plan.

By the way, birth control pills provide other health benefits than just act as a contraceptive so they shouldn’t be considered a lifestyle drug.

Would men elect not to accept insurance coverage for such drugs as erectile dysfunction medication because they don’t need for the government to control their libido? If the question is about why we all should pay for the needs of the few, then we easily could ask the same question about why our health insurance pays for acne medication, efforts to quit smoking or even hormone supplements, since every person paying for insurance doesn’t need each of those medications.

Surely no one — including Huckabee or whoever else he is indicting with his imprecise comments — feels the need to insult women and suggest they are unable to control their libido and are dependent on the government just because the Affordable Care Act contains a provision for birth control costs to be covered. This is hyperbole and hypocrisy at its worst since the law was written to ensure standardized benefits are implemented in a way that does not discriminate against certain patient populations. What is good for one gender is good for the other.

Until health insurance is tailored to suit each individual’s medical needs, standardizing them to work for the masses — regardless of gender’s perceived libido — is the most pragmatic solution.

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher