The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today on whether employers have the right to refuse to provide coverage for certain types of contraceptives in their health plans if providing the coverage violates the employer’s religious beliefs.
Under the current health care law, employers are required to provide health plans that include at no extra charge all forms of birth control for women that have been approved by federal regulations. While a number of family owned companies have sued over providing ALL forms of birth control, the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case are willing to provide coverage for most forms of contraception. Their objection pertains to those drugs or devices that work after the egg has been fertilized.
The Court’s ruling will have wide ranging implications far beyond a women’s right to access affordable health care. A ruling in favor of the plaintiff opens the door for a wide range of faith based challenges to individual freedoms. Does an employer have the right to refuse employment to a gay individual on the basis of the employer’s religious beliefs? Can a Jewish business owner refuse to hire or serve a Muslim? Can a male Muslim business owner refuse to hire or serve a woman deemed inferior under the tenants of the Koran? The list goes on!
Sadly this entire debate will fail to address one of the basic flaws in our health care system… the fact that it is primarily an employment based system.
Health care decisions should be made by the individual not the individual’s employer. Health care is personal. Decisions about health care and coverage should be based on one’s personal health situation and influenced only by factors that the individual deems important.
There will be a lot of discussion over the impact of Court’s ruling in the weeks and months to come.
Unfortunately the discussion will have missed the most salient point of the health care debate.