One More Catholic Having His Conscience Smashed by our God King

He writes:

There is an aspect of the HHS Mandate that people are not realizing. I am a partner (one of 4) in a small, privately held, business that has 10 employees. We provide high deductible health insurance for all of our employees and their families. We also fund a health savings account for them to cover the deductible every year. This has the benefit of saving us a lot of money on insurance premiums and allowing us to give the money we would have spent on premiums directly to the employees in their HSA accounts. If they remain healthy and don’t hit their deductible, the money is theirs to keep to be used for health expenses in the future.

The plan has always covered preventative services with no deductible. This did not include contraceptives, sterilizations, or abortifacients. The employes could still get them if they choose, but they would have to cover the cost out of their HSA. I don’t know how many do, at that point it is a personal matter.

However, today we received documents updating us on the changes to our policy that will go into effect on our plan renewal date of November 1, 2012. The plan will now cover the above items as preventative services, meaning our premiums cover them directly. As a partner, if I comply, I will now be complicit in providing these items for my employees. There is no extension for “for profit” companies, and we do not qualify under the religious exemption.

Of the other three partners, one is Catholic but doesn’t seem to be concerned, and the other two aren’t too religious, although consider themselves part of the non-denominational group. I don’t really have any good options here. I am going to approach my partners and tell them I will not comply. Either they will agree and we will have to drop health coverage for our employees (not likely), or I will have to resign my partnership.

If I resign, I could still work here as an employee, but would I still be complicit? It feels like I would. The point is, this is affecting faithful Catholics NOW! Not next year, not after we know about the lawsuits will bring, but NOW! Please let people know. I am going to send this to Fr. Z as well. I know you guys have a lot of reach. Please spread the word.

I have no answers about what you should do beyond “Try talking to a priest or moral theologian to get some clarity on what path to take.” You and every Catholic affected by this draconian law are in my prayers. As far as possible, resist. Beyond that, it’s up to God to fight with Caesar.

Is there some way you could assume support for something else while they assume support for the HHS crap? Just a thought. I’m a financial imbecile and have no idea if what I’m asking is even possible.

  • http://flicka47_99@yahoo.com flicka47
    • Andy, Bad Person

      No. That case is a temporary injunction granted for one company, and specifically says it doesn’t affect everyone else.

      Now, the final outcome of that case might affect everyone.

  • Marc

    He would not be complicit merely as an employee…I’m rushing this morning so details are short, but Colin Donovan answered this at NCRegister, CatholicVote had a piece, EWTN answered it, and Catholic.com confirmed it. An employee would only be wrong in using any immoral products and services offered by their employer’s plan. Merely paying for insurance and using the unproblematic items as an employee is licit and remote cooperation with evil. Unfortunately, it’s illicit for the employer to offer it to their employees.

  • Marc
  • Marc
  • Cephas

    Marc: the only problem is he’s not just an employee: he’s a partner, which makes him jointly liable in the eyes of the law for all decisions of the partnership. Now whether he has any real say in the matter or not can obviously lessen his moral liability, but he’s more than an employee.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      The original question was that if he resigns his partnership and becomes a normal employee, does it affect him?

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    One thing that bothers me is that right now persons of conscience must face Caesar-Moloch’s demands and punishments as individuals. We are a Church, yes, when it comes to prayer and giving to the poor, but in the workplace setting, in our homes, and our banks, and in court, we are each of us pretty much on our own.

    I realize we’re never “on our own”, that God is with us, that the Communion of Saints and hosts of angels accompany us always, but still. . . . I wish there were ways in which persons of conscience who are being made to suffer persecution might feel a part of something in which the other members were there with them in total solidarity, even if only in unremitting prayer and fasting.

    • Ted Seeber

      Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters of the Americas. The way to gain solidarity is to join in solidarity in the holy virtue of fraternity.

  • Marc

    Cephas: Sorry, I should have pointed out that I was answering this part of the reader’s email:

    “If I resign, I could still work here as an employee, but would I still be complicit? “

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    In my opinion, it may not be morally objectionable for this person to remain a partner after they have stated their objections and (presumably) been voted down. Mark’s advice, though, is necessary: talk to a priest and/or moral theologian.

  • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

    What will be bothering all the businessmen is the concept that money is fungible. Once you throw it into a pot, no particular dollar can be separated out and identified. And GAAP accounting rules generally mean you take all the money and put it into one pot and then parcel it out. Segregation of funds is a major pain in the rear, increasing costs for no earthly utility which means if the partners have any fiduciary duties to anybody who hasn’t explicitly signed on for segregation, those people can personally sue the partners for the extra cost along with the company. All you need is one socialized medicine zealot with some minor ownership interest and your company has a major blow struck against it because these lawsuits are major time sucks and distract management from the task of actually running the business.

  • Irenist

    Mr. Shea, have you seen this article laying out a frightfully Orwellian secularist take on Newland v. Sebelius (i.e., the Hercules injunction decision)?
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/07/why-are-secular-businesses-claiming-religious-rights/260463/
    The “civil libertarian” author claims that Hercules’ attempt to avoid being forced into the position of St. Thomas More is some sort of terrifying fundamentalist power grab threatening the interests of “diverse” people. The arrogant secularist privilege it radiates is matched only by its the wrongheadedness of its legal analysis of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cases. Some sort of well-reasoned and polite Patheos Catholic channel descent upon the Atlantic comboxes might warrant encouragement?

  • Chris

    Take notes. We’re all staring down the barrel of a socialist shotgun.

  • MountainTiger

    The idea that this man is facing a change in his situation is absurd. Currently, the firm earmarks money for employee health care in the same two ways as it will under the new regulation. Likewise, employees are free to use the money under their direct control for the care to which the writer objects. The only change that the regulation makes is moving the payment from the money given directly to the employee to that given to the insurance company. The firm is not paying for any new care, it is simply adding another intermediary to the payment structure.

    • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

      By the same logic, if I hire a hitman to kill my husband, I’m not at all complicit in his murder, because someone else pulled the trigger, not me. I didn’t kill him, I just added an intermediary!

      • MountainTiger

        In a way, you are right; if he objects to enabling his employees to obtain contraception through the insurance company, he ought to object to enabling them to obtain contraception through his HSA contributions and the wages he pays. In the same way, nobody would argue that hiring a hitman is wrong but murdering someone yourself is unproblematic. Really, the better analogy is hiring a hitman as opposed to using an outside agency to hire a hitman. This still does not correspond to his situation because he is not compelling any employee to use contraception in either case. In his case, he accepts the right of his employees to make autonomous decisions regarding contraception but only objects to having the money pass through an insurance company on the way.

        • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

          Incorrect. If the HSA $ could ONLY be used for contraception/abortion/etc, then it would be enabling. He is merely compensating his employees with fair wages and has no control over what they choose to spend their wages on.

          But paying directly for contraceptives or indirectly paying for them though a third party is not morally acceptable.

          • MountainTiger

            How is paying the insurance company somehow different from the HSA contributions? In both cases, he is contributing money specifically for health care which MAY be used for contraception. In neither case is he involved in the decision to use those funds for contraception; his employees retain their position as the decision maker.

            • Andy, Bad Person

              How is paying the insurance company somehow different from the HSA contributions?

              One is direct, the other indirect.

              Let’s follow JoAnna’s hitman analogy. If she pays an insurance company for her employee’s coverage, and that covers Hit Man Implementation, it would be immoral, because she is directly funding that coverage. If she puts the money into a pool, and the employee then uses the money to hire a hitman, it’s not her problem.

  • http://www.sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com Sherry

    There is a tyranny of immorality in this law, give up your beliefs or be destroyed Catholic charities. Give up your beliefs or stop your business–Catholic Universities and Catholic schools. Give up your beliefs Chick Fil-A…you cannot practice your beliefs in your business, only locked away where no one can see them, no one can be affected by them, no one can know…and if you disobey, we will destroy you…because we cannot abide the idea of someone thinking/believing/living other than how we deem fit. Pay homage to Caesar or die.

  • TJ

    I am the partner in question here. @Mountaintiger your response Is incorrect. If there were no new services being paid for, our premiums would not be going up because of it. Currently employees are responsible for the first $3,000 of their health expenses except for “preventative services” which are always covered 100%. Once the deductible is hit, the plan covers everything, except items we have carved out, like contraception and sterilizations. Currently these items are not considered preventative services. Now the plan will cover these items 100% all of the time, when they weren’t covered at all before. The employee had to buy them out of personal HSA funds.

    I appreciate the comments. If I resign my partnership, I will certainly be affected financially. Especially as I get older and could expect to control a larger piece of the company. Right now, I don’t have enough interest to force the issue. Without getting into details of the partnership agreement, I am not protected in this area. I did not anticipate it beforehand. If I do manage to force the issue, there is still the concern of leaving the employees without insurance. Since we are under 50 employees, this is an option. We could use the savings to raise their pay, and have them buy their own policies. The policies would still cover the objectionable services, but at least then we would be a witness to what is going on, and they would be given a reason to rethink their use of these items.

    • Irenist

      “If I do manage to force the issue, there is still the concern of leaving the employees without insurance. Since we are under 50 employees, this is an option. We could use the savings to raise their pay, and have them buy their own policies.”

      Along with the HHS contraception mandate, Obamacare implementation should also bring insurance exchanges that will hopefully (although we shall see) make those policies less expensive than they would be in the present individual market. If you can persuade your partners to pursue this option, it might be excellent. You’re in my prayers.

  • Lou Schwing

    Just because your insurer offers services, it doesn’t make you complicit in the delivery of those services. You already supply the funds for employees to get that care, *if they choose.* Just because the insurance now covers it via the premium, instead of your contribution to the HSA, it doesn’t change the fact that your dollars could be going to things you don’t like. The goal here would be for you to make your feelings known, and let your employees decide whether to avail themselves of those options, just as they do now.

    Resigning your partnership, or denying health coverage to your employees simply because your healthcare dollars shifted from the HSA to the insurance company only gives you a false sense of morality. You’d do better to work toward reducing the need for these services in the public sector.

    I too am an employer that does exactly what you do. I provide a high deductible plan, with a company funded HSA. My employees are free to use that money on anything they choose – eye care, dental, whatever. I don’t have any restrictions. Just like you, I currently have no control over whether the money I funded their HSA with is used on fertility treatments, birth control or Viagra. But I can only let my own feelings be known, and let them decide. As you say, “it is a personal matter.” (BTW, I’m not Catholic, so there is that difference)

  • TJ

    Lou – By that logic I provide the funds for everything my employees do, since I pay them. There is a difference between providing compensation in the form of funding an HSA and providing health insurance, and paying directly for a service that I know they will use to commit a sin. That makes me complicit in that sin. I’m not really here to argue that point. I believe it is well established in the Catholic tradition.

    If my neighbor asks me to buy him a gun that I know he will use to commit murder, I am an accomplice to the murder under the law. If I pay him to cut my grass, and he uses the money to buy a gun with which he commits murder, I am not an accomplice. Same concept here.

    For me, the question is not whether I will pay directly for the services: I will not. That much I have decided. The question is, what are my options to avoid it.

  • Lou Schwing

    TJ, you only directly pay for a service *if they use it.* If they use it from the HSA, or from the insurance, it’s no different. You are paying for it directly. The fact that you pay them isn’t relevant, it’s their earnings, and as you have already stated, it’s a personal matter. Even now they could use that money to buy a gun and kill people. Are you responsible for that? No. Neither are you responsible for their use of the HSA funds on things you don’t care for, nor for their ability to use services through the insurance. The source of the funds are the same either way. I don’t believe you are paying directly for these services either way. You have made the decision that you are. I’m sorry that you feel that way, I think you’ve put yourself in a box you don’t have to be in.

  • Julian

    TJ, has you done any investigation on a self funded plan? I’m just checking this it now and am not sure if this would give us an opt-out path or not. Im not in same boat as you with a looming date but my partners an I are trying to find out how get a plan for our employees that won’t include contraceptives, etc. I’ve got to think that at some point some one will put a list together of alternate options.

    • TJ

      I have looked into it personally, but I didn’t find anything that is going to be off the ground in time. Solidarity Heathshare looks promising, but the law requires a non-profit ministry sponsor who has been using a health share model since before 1999 to qualify for an exemption. They obviously thought this through and tried to close that loophole in the original language of the Affordable Care Act. I’d be interested to hear about anything you find.

  • Forrest Cavalier

    1. Our HSA High Ded Health Plan got grandfathered, meaning that the services are not covered. I pray this continued. We have no employees, just us. Why wasn’t your plan grandfathered?

    2. Your partnership agreement must have a means of dispute resolution if 4 partners do not all agree. It must have a way of appointing a particular partner for particular duties. If you vote no, after having done your best to find moral alternatives and convince the other partners, resigning all your responsibility as a partner doesn’t seem morally necessary. For example, I sure am not leaving the country over who gets elected president after I didn’t vote for the winner.

    • TJ

      I’m not sure? My understanding was that all employers had to comply on their renewal date after August 1, 2012. In our case, that is November 1. I’ll have to look into that.

  • julian

    TJ, not sure if you’ll see this since this post is a month old but the National Catholic Bioethics Center has the following paper which I found extremely helpful http://www.ncbcenter.org/document.doc?id=450&erid=0


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