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09 March 2012

Follow-up to "On Bacon and Birth Control"

A follow-up on a recent post. Commenter Warner shared this blog post from Sarah Posner over at Religion Dispatches. It's a nice take-down of a straw man argument put forward by several Catholic bishops. It's not quite the same hypothetical that my student proposed in class, but there are similarities. Regardless, and I forgot to mention this in the previous post, this whole issue is one created by our peculiar system of employer-based health insurance in the U.S. A public single-payer system doesn't eliminate all of these "religious liberty" concerns, but it does better. Really, a seemingly logical conclusion would be for employers to give the money they would pay for group insurance directly to the employees in the form of higher wages with which the employee would then be forced by the new healthcare law to directly purchase insurance on the open market. It's all very convoluted, and that's kind of my point.

The more I think about this, the more it would make sense to eliminate employer-based health insurance all together. So long as there is third-party oversight in the transition so that employers aren't pocketing any of the benefits that rightfully belong to their employers, Liberals are happy since all people are required to purchase insurance already; Republicans will be happy because it will be a market-based system. If the federal government is going to organize opaque insurance exchanges, why not just let the public filter themselves into the plans that match their values? Many people would choose fairly broad coverage that would require coverage for birth control and abortion. Religious minorities would have the option to choose more narrow coverage that would not cover services that consumers find morally objectionable. The broader coverage would end up being less expensive since we know that preventative services like birth control are far less expensive than non-preventative obstetric services and STI treatments. Morality and the market: isn't that what the right wants?

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