Your boss gets to decide your health care?

…At least, that seems to be the ruling of a Federal court in Oklahoma, which held that the owners of Hobby Lobby don’t have to provide health care coverage to their employees if it may include nasty things the employer doesn’t like, such as abortions.

Yes, that’s right. Your employer gets to decide health care decisions for you.

This has been framed as a 1st amendment Freedom of Religion argument, but apparently the court only cares about the employer’s religion and not that of the employee.

Could be worse, I suppose. If he was one of those Jehovah’s Witnesses who thinks that you can pray away disease, then you wouldn’t get any coverage whatsoever according to this opinion.

I guess if a business owner didn’t like, I dunno, kidney stones, then those wouldn’t be covered either. Oh, right, only religious reasons allow an employer to discriminate like this.

Let’s see — I seem to remember a Constitutional amendment that prohibited that sort of thing.gavel

This is an absolutely ridiculous decision. Hobby Lobby is not a religious organization; it’s a for-profit business. A business owner should not have the right to decide health care decisions for his or her employees. This is not comparable to a church, for instance, being forced to disobey its beliefs.

Should I, as a business owner, be allowed to force my beliefs on my employees? What if my religion believes women should wear burkas and never speak? Should I make all my female employees wear burkas?

The Court apparently believes employers have powers to ignore laws they don’t like. “If you work here, you have to live by my beliefs, not yours. Don’t like it? Tough!” I think we should say to business owners, “These are people who work for you, who have the right to make their own decisions about health care. You will give them the option, because this is America where we value individual decisions. Don’t like it? Tough!”

Your religion does not give you the right to disobey the law. There are Jamaican religions that believe in smoking marijuana during their ceremonies — tough, that’s illegal. Animal cruelty in the name of religion is illegal. Refusing to give your child medicine in the name of religion is illegal. Religions shouldn’t be exempt from the law just because they “really really believe” something. That’s not what America is about.

Look, if you start a business in America, we expect certain things from you. You have to pay a minimum wage; you have to have a safe working environment; you have to pay business taxes; you have to pay for worker’s compensation; you have to provide health care. Keep in mind that your employees may decide to use their money or benefits to do things you personally disagree with. Don’t like it? Tough. Don’t open a business.

If you don’t like the fact that we have freedom from religion in America, then maybe you should open a business somewhere else, like Iran. I understand they have no problem with you forcing religion on people who work for you.

16 thoughts on “Your boss gets to decide your health care?

  1. I find a small amount of irony in a company that refuses to give people days off to visit dying family members because “You have every Sunday off” is against any form of birth control. If I wanted people to be at my constant beck and call I’d approve birthcontrol water in the break room.


  2. Most people’s employers have been determining their health care , since WW II, Mike. Obviously there is a legitimate 1st Amendment issue here. I may think these people’s religious beliefs are bullshit (and I do) and you may think that, it still doesn’t follow that the government can force anyone to spend money for something they have a religious objection to. Dismissing that as “then don’t start a business” is flip.


    • The difference now is that Obamacare requires them to provide it and requires that they cover all kinds of health care. When providing it was at the option of the employer, then certainly the employer could decide (after hopefully negotiating with his employees). This is no longer an option.

      Once more, medicare for all would solve this problem and many others.


      • “The difference now is that Obamacare requires them to provide it ”
        Yes, and that’s the crux of the Constitutional problem, government requiring you to pay for something that’s against your religious beliefs. If the govt. was requiring me to subsidize faith healing, I’d have a problem with that. Note that this is not even the government using your tax dollars for something you don’t support. It’s the government requiring you to take additional money out of your pocket to support it.
        A single payer plan would moot the objection but — absent such a plan — it’s a valid objection.


  3. Steve, requiring businesses to do that, is really no different than requiring them to take additional money out of their pocket to pay a minimum wage, or pay for proper safety equipment on the premises and so on.

    Your basically overlooking the fact that the Governments role here is to look out for the businesses workers, who sometimes *are being taken advantage of unfairly*, and put things right.

    History shows us that certain unscrupulous Businessmen like to cut corners which makes them more money, but sometimes it’s at the cost of life and limb. (How’s about that recent sewing factor disaster?) And it’s things like that happening whenever these kind of businessmen try to get their employee to sign away their rights via contracts and the like, that affordable health care act was trying to put right.

    Just another example is how these same businessmen were trying in the past – by making as terms of employment, making employees agree to either having no healthcare (Ever seen how many temp worker/contract for job terms that include that? Well, My wife & I have many times!), or very limited/expensive healthcare.

    Plus, I’ve watched how benefit shrinkage occur over my fathers own career to mine where it used to be everyone was provided pensions and where the company ‘took care of you’ change to the more mean spirited Dick Cheney ‘screw you’/’anything for a profit’. IMHO, It’s a ‘your on your own’/’caveat emptor’ business mentality gone completely off the rails and into basically con man territory sort of thing happening here. And exactly where the government should be stepping in and restoring some balance back into the situation.


  4. Tim, I don’t think anybody had a RELIGIOUS objection to minimum wage,etc…they had economic objection. Your religious beliefs are protected by the Constitution your economic best interest is not. Trust me that you can not possibly have more contempt for the 1% and a greater hatred of insurance companies than I do. That’s not what this is about. Peoples’ sincere religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment ..again, even if I think holding those beliefs makes you a nitwit..and I do …you have a right to be a Bible-based (or Koran-based, or Torah-based, ect.) nitwit under our Constitution. I don’t think those religious beliefs should control our laws…i.e. gay marriage. But I think people have the right to hold them and when I hear people ..and Mike has been guilty of this in the past ..trying to turn other people’s sincerely held religious beliefs into hate speech, then I think that’s wrong.


    • I don’t think all religious speech is hate speech. But hate speech justified by religious belief is still hate speech. The fact that you hate someone because your religion tells you to doesn’t excuse it. I don’t excuse Muslims who say “all Jews are evil” and I don’t excuse Christians who say “all gays are evil.”


      • I think that what they more say is that the behavior is a sin. Which is not a position that I hold, but it’s a position that one is entitled to hold.


      • Personally, I agree with Mike’s standpoint that some people have been cloaking their bigotry & hate speech as “religious speech” or just plain “religion”.

        We’re seeing a lot more of that now that we have far more effective communications systems which now allow people who normally would have been geographically or socially isolated to ‘propagate’ their views to others quickly & efficiently when before they weren’t able to. Thus we’re seeing a lot of unease being caused by what could be termed as a ‘social disruption’ in our culture – we’re literally still hashing out all these morals right now!

        Yeah, I’m okay with people practicing whatever religion they want because they should be free to do that even if I don’t agree with it.

        But! When their religious practices includes that it be forced *upon others*, that is where I think the line needs to be drawn, plain and simple.

        And it seems to me, that’s what the constitution authors were trying to shoot for, the “you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone” way of dealing with all this religious stuff in order to avoid the persecution they had experienced while in other countries.


  5. When a religious person seriously practices the “love the person, hate the sin” then I don’t have a problem with it. And many people who think homosexuality is a sin still are against having the government prohibit it, because they understand the separation of church and state.

    What I am referring to are people who say hateful things about gays (or women, or atheists, or muslims, etc.) and then when challenged, say “Hey, don’t you censor my religious beliefs!”

    Same thing goes for religious people who think the earth is 6000 years old and evolution is a lie. Just because your belief is based on your religion doesn’t mean it can’t be criticized. Stupid things don’t stop being stupid just because you believe it really, really strongly.


  6. People are allowed to SAY anything they want — with a very few exceptions — no matter how stupid or hateful it is. It’s when they try to convert that to discriminatory ACTION that they cross the line.


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