Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Editorial: Hobby Lobby ruling shows why employer-based health care should end

Time to ditch employer health care.

First Published Jun 30 2014 02:08 pm • Last Updated Jun 30 2014 03:28 pm

"The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives." — The Supreme Court of the United States, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, 1992.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Anything that stands in the way of the universal availability of medically sound methods of contraception stands in the way of the rights of women and, therefore, the rights of humanity.

And if, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in the Hobby Lobby case, some corporations can refuse to cover medically sound methods of contraception by claiming the religious freedom of "persons," that is yet another reason for the United States to move away from its status as the only nation where employer-provided health care is the norm.

In a ruling marked by a withering dissent and a cautionary concurrence, a 5-4 majority decided that it is a violation of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to require, as the Affordable Care Act does, that privately held for-profit businesses provide health plans covering contraceptive methods that violate the religious beliefs of the individuals who own those corporations.

The linchpin of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion is that, even though making contraceptive coverage widely available may be a legitimate goal of government, it is a goal that must be achieved with minimal intrusion into individuals’ religious belief. And, Alito writes, because government rules carrying out the ACA already allow a work-around for religious organizations, they should allow the same bypass for corporations owned by religiously motivated individuals.

Those detours include requiring that insurance companies cover the controversial methods of birth control — specifically the "morning after" pill and IUDs — at their own expense, or that government itself pick up the cost.

Which suggests a proper course of action for all health coverage. Just leave the employers out of the expensive and complicated loop and help individuals obtain health coverage through the other methods employed by the ACA — aka Obamacare — expanding Medicaid for the poor and providing tax-subsidized coverage for everyone else.

Or, better still, just going to a single-payer system.

That would have made sense for Obamacare all along, except that it would be too disruptive and a violation of all that unfortunate "If you like your plan, you can keep it" stuff.

story continues below
story continues below

The very existence of employer-based health coverage was itself a work-around, a way for employers constrained by World War II wage controls to hang on to precious workers by giving them a back-door raise.

No other nation relies on such a cobbled-together system to provide such a basic service of civilization. It would be better if we didn’t, either.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.