July 9, 2014
Separation of church and state is a big deal in the U.S. On Monday June 30th the Supreme Court ruled that certain companies do not have to provide health care coverage for facets of life that contradict the religious views of the business. Right off the bat, something seems off kilter. Should a company be able to deny coverage for someone’s well being because it doesn’t play well with the belief system of a business? I was unaware that a business, which is not a sentient entity, could have a belief system. Well I guess it’s time for me to learn how the world works, because this decision hits close to home for me, seeing as the specific aspect under scrutiny was birth control coverage.
What came out of the decision is that companies are not required to provide funding for contraceptive methods that do not coincide with their religious beliefs. An important detail in this story is an accommodation that “allows health insurance companies to provide the coverage without the employer being involved in the process” can be utilized by a business. This way the employees still have access to most of what they need and the companies do not go against their religious standing. What this also means is that there are more hoops to jump through for an employee to receive the necessary health care. That sounds like a reasonable compromise, right? Maybe not. There are people who would argue that denying women full access to such health care through their employer is unjust. I can understand this standpoint because with this new ‘accommodation’ there are more steps to the process of getting a prescription.
Although I fully support the right of religious freedom, it is unsettling that this freedom will restrict the health care of female employees in the future. In the days following this decision people are commenting that companies could use this proclamation as an excuse to not cover health care needs other than birth control, such as various surgeries. As a female, I don’t think an employer that pays for the things I need in order to be healthy is such a bad thing, but apparently there are those who want women’s lives to be harder than they already are. For example, many women take the birth control pill as a means of regulating their periods and not for contraceptive purposes. Think about it. If your body goes through this messy process irregularly, it impacts every part of your life and could very well prevent you from doing what you need to do and living a fulfilled life. I know I would be miserable, which is why birth control is an option that should not have limits put on it by a business.
The court decision has caused arguments about what people are entitled to regarding health care. People are complaining that a company’s religious freedom is now taking priority over that of an individual, and that this new mandate is too vague and could lead to more health care problems and hoops in the coming years.
For another source, here is the Chicago Tribune article on the subject: