How does insurance work? Ask a woman

The most interesting thing about asking a question — especially a stupid question — is that there are plenty of people who’ll gladly answer it, and make you look even more foolish in the process.

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., asked a silly one at yesterday’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, while simultaneously displaying a fundamental ignorance of how insurance works.

(Video link)

Shimkus asked why men should have to pay for health insurance coverage for women.

It’s not the weirdest thing he’s ever said — that would be his contention that capping carbon emissions would steal food from plants.

But Shimkus gave voice to a common theme among opponents of health insurance coverage: If they don’t personally use it, why should people have to pay for it?

Who’d like to take that one?

How about you, Heidi Stevens of the Chicago Tribune?

Because lots of men have sex with women.

Because a lot of that sex produces babies.

Because men and women have an equal stake in those babies being born healthy.

Because all of us, even when we’re not the parents of those babies, have a stake in those babies being born healthy.

Because healthy babies, ideally, turn into healthy children.

At New York Magazine, Clare Landsbaum, says it’s pretty simple, really. The law’s writers didn’t want insurance companies to discriminate against women.

And it goes both ways — under Obamacare, women pay for basic services that benefit men such as prostate cancer tests and a preventative service that checks older men who have smoked for abdominal aortic aneurysms. As Doyle reminded Shimkus during the hearing, “There’s no such thing as à la carte insurance, John.” In the immortal words of our president, who knew health care could be so complicated?