Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided by a vote of 5-4 that employers who provide health insurance for their employees can exempt coverage for abortions and emergency contraception on religious grounds. (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby)
I disagree with this decision because employee health insurance should cover all reasonable medical expenses. Allowing employers to exempt coverage for some expenses, but not others, discriminates against employees who incur those costs and it defeats the purpose of insurance, which is to spread the costs of the few among the many.
Justice Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, approved of the exemption because it is based on the Freedom of Religion Clause in the First Amendment.
The religious beliefs of an employer who provides health insurance coverage for employees are irrelevant. The only relevant consideration is the patient’s medical condition. An employer’s religious belief should have no role in an employee’s medical decision.
Communications between a doctor and his patient and the decisions they make regarding a course of treatment, including taking any prescribed medication, are confidential and should not be shared with anyone, especially the employer.
Employers who provide health insurance for their employees have no right to information about their medical condition and treatment. They should be prohibited from refusing to pay for any category of medical expenses that would otherwise be covered under any insurance plan.
This decision opens the door for other employers to reduce the coverage and cost of their employee plans by claiming they oppose (Fill-in-the-blank) medical expenses on religious grounds. For example, some people oppose vaccinations on religious grounds.
The number of possible objections to coverage that an employer might make is limited to the extent of their imagination.
This is an extremely bad idea.
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