This blog isn’t really for political stuff, but this will tie in (slightly), so I’ll put this here. I’ll start out by saying all for men and women having modern medicine as it relates to sex, and I’m all for access to abortion services, contraceptives, etc. If I had a company, when it got the size that offering comprehensive health insurance made since, I’d include all those services without any hesitation. I think the moment a fetus can survive outside the body is the moment it’s murder. That’s not until at least the third trimester, and even then, if there’s any doubt, the rights go to the woman. That doesn’t mean I support a person’s right to do drugs while they’re pregnant. I think that’s fucked up and wrong. I just don’t think a fetus is a person yet. That’s where I’m at.
I’m okay with the Hobby Lobby decision. I don’t feel super strongly either way, but I’m okay with it because it restricts access to relatively cheap services in exchange for more freedom running a business.
It forces Hobby Lobby employees to self-insure for 2 kinds of emergency contraception, each costing around $60 without insurance, as well as for an IUD which costs more like $500 – $1000. Hobby Lobby doesn’t like the IUD because it can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, and it considers that abortion.
Hobby Lobby insurance still covers the more traditional pill form of birth control, condoms, sponges, and sterilization procedures.
So if you work at Hobby Lobby and you want to not worry about getting a morning after pill, you need to have $60 for a rainy morning. Presumably, Hobby Lobby employees would demand lower health insurance premiums for this decreased level of service, and those premiums over time would pay out $60. If that isn’t true, an employee could also say, “your benefits suck, I’m going to get a better job somewhere else” and leave. Then Hobby Lobby incurs associated with employee turnover, and this hurts their profits.
As for the IUD, it’s a harder argument. Broadly, an IUD costs the same for everybody, it’s just with insurance that cost is spread out over a bunch of premium payments. It could be argued that insurance companies can negotiate lower IUD prices, so excluding it from insurance increases the cost a bunch. So people who want IUD maybe won’t find Hobby Lobby’s benefits compelling, and Hobby Lobby will have a harder time finding quality employees. I don’t believe an IUD is ever an emergency procedure [update: it can be installed “the morning after” as an emergency contraceptive – not sure how often it is used in this way, although it does seem to be very effective as an emergency contraceptive], and it seems there are several insured forms of birth control available under Hobby Lobby’s insurance (pills, condoms, sponges, etc.). So not insuring the IUD doesn’t really seem like a big deal for most people. Those people who want to pay $500-$1000 out of pocket for an IUD, yes that’s expensive. Those people have other employment options. They can also sell something or get another job.
A point I want to make is that having savings is important so that people can’t fuck with you. When a morning pill is a big deal because the uninsured cost is $60, you need some more savings. You can’t arrange your financial life so that $60 causes a bunch of drama.
The overall point I want to make is that despite all the drama, it doesn’t seem like Hobby Lobby’s decision to drop healthcare coverage for these things is going to have a big impact on its workers. The broader implications are all hypothetical. Other companies could have chosen to drop healthcare provisions in the past, but they choose not to because they want the advantages of the healthcare and to offer an attractive benefits program. I may not agree w/ Hobby Lobby’s decision here, but I respect that the founder has earned and given over $500M to causes he believes in. Most of the people complaining haven’t worked nearly that hard. Rather than complain, they should work at night to create companies where disgruntled Hobby Lobby employees can enjoy full healthcare coverage.
It’s the owner of the company who gets to decide how to run the company. When you work nights and start some crap out of your garage, that’s the benefit you get. When you work for somebody else, you get whatever they decide to give you. If you don’t like what your employer is offering, you can start something out of your own garage or go work somewhere else. You could say the founder of Hobby Lobby could resign as CEO if he didn’t want to offer birth control, but that’s kinda the same thing as telling people to leave the country if they don’t follow a certain religious belief. It’s not real religious freedom. I don’t agree with Hobby Lobby’s unusual compensation package, but there are a ton of small businesses with no health insurance plans who are therefore covering zero birth control. Hobby Lobby apparently covers 16 kinds, including oral contraceptives. Of the 3 they don’t coffer, 2 are $60 and easily self-insurable. The IUD is $500-$1000 and usually isn’t an attractive emergency option. The company has a minimum pay of $11, about $1760 a month, so a person can look at that and decide if they’d rather have full IUD coverage and work for $7.25, or whatever their local minimum wage is, and take the $600/month pay cut (I chose Oklahoma, since it looks like Hobby Lobby’s home base). Personally, if I were a woman looking at these kinds of options (I’d aim higher and encourage pretty much anyone to aim higher), to get $600 more to work at a company that has given hundreds of millions to charity but have to pay out of pocket for an IUD (as long as I could put up with the evangelical Christian company values), or work for $600 less at a place with full coverage, I’d probably choose to work at Hobby Lobby. It doesn’t seem like such a bad deal. The overall discussion is absolutely retarded and terribly disappointing. Looking at this subject overall, we probably need to dig into the 1993 religious freedom bill. And healthcare overall… that’s just a big mess. Bottom line is people need to be responsible for their own shit, and this decision isn’t forcing anybody to work at Hobby Lobby. So pay attention to the details of your healthcare plan and have $1000 saved for a rainy day/morning.
Another thing I don’t like about this discussion is that it encourages people to think their healthcare is a function of their employer’s decisions, rather than of their own.
[More about the IUD as an emergency contraceptive, since I wasn’t as familiar with it as I’d like]
It looks like it isn’t used more often for emergency both because of cost and because of the availability of a doctor to insert it during an emergency time window.
Full text of the decision:
As I discuss this more, I think of different things. My goals are in line with most pro-choice people – for women to have fairly priced and easy access to all reproductive health care options. I think the idea of “free” reproductive care is a myth – the costs are charged one way or another. I’d rather they be out in the open. I just don’t think an employer not offering reproductive insurance is what makes reproductive care expensive. A byzantine healthcare pricing system, a lack of competition in the IUD space, excessive liability insurance for physicians — these seem like problems worth solving, but they all existed before the Hobby Lobby decision. Why get mad now?