Why is health insurance tied to our jobs?

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I’ve been having this massive, internal struggle.


I agree that a company has a right to refuse payment toward birth control.

Hear me out before you get shouty. I’m not against birth control. I’m pro-choice. In ALL matters. I believe in a PERSON’S right to do what they want pertaining to their lives and bodies, so long as it doesn’t harm others or break laws.

So when Hobby Lobby took their plight to the U.S. Supreme Court, I wasn’t thrilled. But when the Court determined that it was their right to refuse birth control, the liberal world went guns blazing in attack mode. And I started feeling this unyielding urge to agree with the Court’s decision.

I couldn’t figure out why.

I don’t believe that anyone should be denied birth control…and quite frankly, with this decision, no one is being DENIED anything. Employees of a known religiously-motivated company will not have their birth control paid for by the company.

The aforementioned employees are not being told they’ll be tested for use of birth control or fired for using it. The company doesn’t want to pay for it.


If you don’t agree? Don’t work there.

But we’re missing the point.

There is a MUCH bigger issue here than birth control or the idea that this is about women’s rights. Because it’s not. Healthcare in the United States is tied to employment.


Pissed-off liberals will tell you that the employers just gained the right to tell employees what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

But you know what?

Employers have had that privilege for YEARS.

I was on birth control for almost 10 years. Never. NOT ONCE was it covered by my insurance. Not even partially.

Currently, I use several medications (unrelated to contraceptives, but related to my well-being and ability to function on a daily basis). Because some of these drugs are available over the counter, I can’t even use my HSA (which is SUPPOSED to cover medication prescribed by a doctor) to purchase them.

Additionally, my current employer will only insure my prescription drug purchases as long as I don’t use one of the big four pharmacies in the area. Because they are direct competitors with my company. Did you hear that? Let me repeat it for you. My company is dictating WHERE I can make my prescription purchases.

Because health care is tied to our jobs.

I spent the better part of my twenties uninsured. I didn’t go to the doctor. I didn’t take care of myself with regular checkups because I couldn’t afford it. Was I unemployed the entire time? No. I worked part-time jobs, freelanced, waited for grace periods at new jobs.

The Obamacare plan was a step in the right direction, but it was just a step. Babies don’t start walking and run a marathon the next day.

The Supreme Court is right.

Why is the government forcing these mandates on companies? Because from where I’m standing, companies shouldn’t be in control of insurance. They need to regulate insurance companies (or do away with them altogether). The government should be making healthcare the same for everyone. Employed. Unemployed. Religious. Non-religious. Sick. Healthy. All health services should be readily available AT THE SAME COST for everyone.

Insurance is a big fat multi-billion dollar operation. These companies make COMMISSION on you. They’re gambling on your health. They “negotiate” prices with doctors’ offices and hospitals to give you a “discounted” rate…except that many times, you’ll get a better rate if you DON’T have insurance. Or if you qualify for Obamacare. I’ve discovered, after talking to several people, that some insurance plans available through employers cost the same, or more, but offer fewer benefits than Obamacare. And yet people who are offered “reduced-rate” insurance through their employer don’t qualify for a reduced-rate Obamacare plan.

There are still problems with the system, but we’re moving in the right direction.

So maybe both sides of this debate should stop worrying about one company’s beliefs and a single court ruling, and instead, they should worry about the bigger picture. Because this isn’t about women or contraception or religion. This is about corporate entities having control over ALL of our medical decisions.

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20 Responses

  1. My concern over the decision by the Supreme Court is that it may set a precedence for companies refusing vaccines. Also, the fact that it is hard to know who is a company claiming to have a religious standing when the company itself isn’t religious in any way. But, I agree with you that companies need to get out of this altogether. I think all the problems with what is covered and not would be solved if we had a system more like Canada (and for those screaming about how awful Canada’s system is, I have a Canadian friend who married an American and hates American health care/insurance. She misses Canada’s health care.). Then, no one can claim religious exemption, etc. It will all be covered for everyone (cost will likely be the same or less but as part of taxes, not premiums to greedy insurance companies). Whether one chooses to use it is up to the individual.

    1. I agree with you, but I think the decision should be a stepping stone to that end (non-employment-related health care). What the government chooses to do with it, on the other hand, is another story.

    2. @Denise – maybe I have too much faith in the government (ha!) but I have to hope that no company’s insurance would be allowed to refuse such required vaccinations as tetanus and MMR. These are simple, life-saving, and cost-effective procedures compared to trying to combat infectious diseases down the road.

      I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this entire decision. I suppose I have not formed a cohesive opinion. I agree with you, Chrissy, in that THIS IS NOT NEW.

      When we were in undergrad, birth control wasn’t covered. We couldn’t get it at the health center because they were Catholic-affiliated (at our secular, private school). I remember wanting to get on the Pill, and it involved sending a letter to my parents’ insurance company explaining that I had migraines and an out-of-control “cycle.”

      I also had to have doctors’ notes and documentation, basically saying I wasn’t going to use the Pill to kill pre-babies, just my headaches. This was rather invasive and embarrassing, but that’s what I had to do. This was more than 10 years ago and we didn’t sue. Maybe we should have.

      Most women I know just go to Planned Parenthood, where family planning and birth control is provided at little to no cost. Is it fair that women have to do this? Perhaps not. Like I said, I haven’t really formed a cohesive opinion.

      It will be interesting to see what precedents this decision sets, however.

      1. As I was reading this, I was like, “YEAH! My school didn’t offer access to birth control either…” And then I looked at the name, and was like, “Duh, this is your friend Meghan, CHRISSY. You went to the same school. Sheesh.”

        That being said, all joking aside, I am most-interested in seeing where this goes, as well. Thanks for the added input, Meghan. I agree with your first point. I like to think that the government won’t let this get pushed to vaccines and such.

  2. Ok first off, this is why I love the fact that I live in Canada. Not only is every prescription covered by my health insurance, I never have to pay for a hospital visit in my LIFE!!! The only thing my insurance won’t necessarily cover 100% of is those stupid “processing fee’s” that pharmacy’s tack on. There’s a limit on what they pay, if your pharmacy charges more, you pay the difference.

    Onto the birth control. If you work for a crazy religiously conservative company, you either conform to their religious beliefs already, or you make the choice to work somewhere else. End of story. Someone mentioned precedent and vaccines (again, in Canada we don’t pay for Doctors visits or to vaccinate out of pocket unless it’s one of those voluntary travel ones). Again, if you work for a company who’s religious founders don’t believe in vaccinations, mental health drugs, birth control or WHATEVER….you are making that choice. If you don’t like it, get a job somewhere that is more in line with your own personal beliefs. But I’m guessing that more often than not, people of similar beliefs would gravitate towards jobs with that company anyway (just a thought).

    I mean I’m not signing up for an IT job at Westboro Baptist just because it’s a job m’kay? I think I’d lean towards Prostitution first….but that’s the joy of having choices.

    Moral of the story, you American’s are nuts. Your health care is insane and I love you, but I’m sticking with Canada.

  3. I thought this Hobby Lobby ruling might lead us to universal healthcare too. That’s the hope I am clinging to. Sadly, I think it also opens up a door to more discriminatory policies. The only power I have is where I spend my money so I’ll have to pay attention to the companies I am supporting.

  4. Being a somewhat conservative male, hopefully I will not run into a buzz saw with my opinion. First, I think that the government has no business being involved in being the provider of healthcare, RXs and such. Notice I am saying provider, not regulator. Doctors and Nurses need to be licensed and the government has a valid role in determining that they are qualified and are not operating unethically or are engaging in malpractice. The same thing with drugs. This all started with the Pure Food And Drug Act in 1906. However, nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it say that we are entitled to healthcare. Canada which is held up to be a paragon in providing healthcare for all citizens, relies on high taxes and has a shortage of specialists for elective surgery. There is actually a lottery to determine who sees a specialist. There are many reasons why Obamacare is extremely flawed and will have a detrimental effect on all citizens of the U.S.A.

    1. I’m not disagreeing with you. But as a Canadian, I’d rather have a long wait time to see a specialist, than not be able to see one at all because I can’t afford it. I don’t believe people should get preferential medical treatment just because of their tax bracket. But yes, Canada needs more Doctors in general.

  5. You’re right. Companies shouldn’t be able to dictate what are medical options are. Before, you had the choice not to use insurance through your employer, but Obamacare took that option away. Sure, you could get private insurance by going straight to a provider, but it costs two to three times as much.

    I pay close to $400 a month (through my employer) for medical insurance. My children and I are relatively healthy, and rarely have to go to the doctor. The only thing that keeps me from dropping it is the fear that some huge accident may happen and I’d be stuck with horrendous medical bills. One inpatient stay at a hospital often costs more than a new car Cadillac.

    The whole system is hosed. I know Canada’s system is flawed, but it seems a lot less flawed than ours. There has to be some way to meet in the middle, but until someone can get the flow of money from insurance companies to politicians to stop (campaign contributions my ass – that money is buying votes) nothing will change.

  6. Huh. Good points. I am still not happy with the decision, but you’re right – employers already do have a huge say in our health care. I agree we need to move to a universal health care system for the country. I grew up in an inner-city, and teach in the same place now, and it is heartbreaking to see my students lack access to proper health care because they don’t have the money. Oftentimes their parents are faced with choices like rent or healthcare, food or medicine. It’s just not right in a country with so much wealth.

    1. Well, in my state we have Medical for low income folks and there is a pool of doctors and healthcare providers that will accept it. Also, nobody is going to be turned away in an medical emergency in the e.r. I repeat my point: medical care is not a right under the U.S. Constitution and having dictates from the federal government about what must be provided is an intrusion into personal healthcare decisions.

      1. As Ambrose Bierce put it in *The Devil’s Dictionary”: “Conservative: A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.”

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