Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm Conflicted

I’m conflicted about the current debate over insurance coverage for contraceptives.  The headlines keep blaring that the question is not only whether they should be required to be included in employer health insurance plans, but that they should also be free.  The flip side is to single out contraceptives as optional according to the whim of the employer.  Supposedly it’s an option based on moral values of some kind, but I think whim is a more accurate term. 
It seems to me that if an employer provides health insurance at all, and if that insurance includes a prescription drug plan, contraceptives should be included in the same way as any other prescribed drug.  That may or may not, probably not, be free.  The day of 100% employer paid health insurance plan is gone.  Most prescription plans require a copay in addition to the employee share of the premium.  Some get picky about brand name and generic drugs. 
I would prefer something similar to the Canadian health insurance system, but we have what we have.
It does bring up an interesting question.  To what extent is an employer free to impose particular moral values on an employee?  Codes of ethics are legion among major corporations.  Once upon a time companies such as IBM required ‘men’ to wear white shirts and ties.  I once worked for an organization that had, before I worked for them, required ‘men’ to wear dark colored suits, preferably black or dark grey.  Women were required to wear dresses of appropriate modesty in appropriate colors that did not include red.  Married men were given pay and promotion preference over single men.  Single women and widows were given pay and promotion preference over married women, but not on the same track as men.  Unmarried moms were never hired, or fired as soon as discovered.  All of it was intended to say something about the moral or ethical standards of the organization.
These may seem quaintly dated examples, but the point is that employers have a long history of messing around in the personal and private lives of their employees for reasons that, as it turns out, have nothing to do with the effective, efficient operation of the organization.  Yet every organization must have standards of ethical behavior, appearance, and performance that are important to the effective, efficient operation of the business.  
I don’t think there is a line that separates the two.  It’s more like a large fuzzy no man’s land.  Perhaps the contraceptive issue is in that region, but I doubt it.  The abortion question, while touching even more raw nerves and generating greater heat, is another that might be in that region, but I doubt it. 
Something to think about.

1 comment:

Dianna Woolley said...

Definitely something to think about! To think about instead of the minor annoyances that creep into one's day to day routine when one is retired and no longer required to worry about what employers do or don't do - but WAIT - we still DO have to worry about the employer/employee situation as involved and caring citizens, issues should not be approached head in the sand position though they don't touch us, or seemingly don't touch us, when we're retired. Understanding the implications of health care programs is as important to every citizen as the fact that good schools should still be encouraged, voted for, supported by our taxes EVEN though we haven't had children in the public schools for many, many years. Our responsibilities do not end at the punch of the retired button. Something to think about indeed!