Why should your boss be able to decide what your insurance covers?

Imagine living in a world in which your boss gets to decide what you can buy with the salary you’re paid.

Perhaps you have an employer who doesn’t like you eating ice cream or watching R-rated movies. Or perhaps your employer believes in keeping kosher (that is, supports following Jewish dietary law) and doesn’t want you to spend your salary on ham or bacon or, during Passover, on leavened bread.

Would you consider it acceptable for your boss to say you can’t spend your salary on those things? No.

Then how can any employer be in the position to refuse to allow you to have health insurance that provides birth control at no cost to you?

The Obama policy mandating free contraception coverage is, by the way, a policy that insurance companies find perfectly acceptable because women who use birth control on a regular basis use fewer health services. The policy is a great financial deal for insurance companies.

While the policy crafted by the Obama administration allows explicitly religious organizations like churches to opt out of contraception coverage, even this undermines employees’ rights.

Yes, I know there are constitutional arguments regarding religious freedoms. And, yes, because of the way the U.S. developed its system of paying for medical and preventive care after World War II, employers often purchase the insurance policy, sending in money for your coverage.

But there’s a basic fact that’s been overlooked:

Health insurance and salary are just different elements of one’s compensation package.

Your employer can’t tell you what to buy with your salary. Why should your boss be able to decide what your insurance covers?

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.