Health Insurance is Compensation

Health Insurance is Compensation July 6, 2014


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Allan Bevere

    James, I don’t understand the logic. Does that mean that the employee also gets to name the salary the employer will pay?

    • No (although they do sometimes get to negotiate that). It means that our employers do not get to tell us how we may spend our compensation on our own time.

      • Dan

        But they do get to decide what they are going to compensate you. A worker can demand what they should get, but it is still up to the employer if they are going to give that to you. A worker has the option to accept that or refuse that.

        But it is entirely up to the employer.

        • Not when there are federal laws dictating minimums. The decision legitimized what is, essentially, wage theft.

          • Dan

            Hardly, they are still getting the contraceptives free.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Not yet.

        • That’s ridiculous! I don’t sit around each month hoping that my employer pays me more or less than the last month at his own discretion! I know that my pay stub will show the wages and benefits that my employer has agreed to provide by contract.

          • Dan

            Absolutely, and you have the option to refuse that or not. It is they however who determine what you will receive, not you.

          • On the contrary, employment is based on a contract that both parties, the employer and the employee, agree to. My employer does not decide my pay. The market for my skills and my demands decide my pay.

          • Dan

            They negotiate your pay with you and you respond by remaining employed there or refusing the compensation.

          • Precisely. My pay is negotiated. My compensation most certainly is not “entirely up to the employer.” The employer is subject to the contract of my employment and the wage and benefit stipulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. If my employer “decides” to withhold the compensation I agreed to in my contract, I can report them to the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, and they would be subject to fines and possible imprisonment.

          • Dan

            It is up to the employer to offer it to you however, and that is the point.

          • It’s up to me, too. We agree on a salary by contract – that is the point of employment.

          • Dan

            Yes it is up to you to agree with the employer’s offer. That is the negotiation, and if you do not like it you leave or try to change the employers mind.

            At hobby lobby the employee has the opportunity to leave the company, remain at the company and agree with the company, or remain at the company and use the governments fix to receive the contraceptives for free.

          • Once again, though, this is not a standard negotiation situation. Hobby Lobby asked to be exempt from minimum federal standards. They got an exemption from obeying labour laws. That makes it a very different situation – and a very different sort of precedent – from a regular negotiation issue.

          • Dan

            Correct, the government crossed the line and because the government already had a solution in place for the exact same reason, the court correctly decided that the government can apply that solution for the employees at Hobby Lobby.

          • The government only crossed the line according to 5 of 9 justices. We’ll see how long that lasts.

          • Dan

            That is a really scary fact. Those four have rejected a very important freedom. Hopefully the rejection of that freedom will never be that close to being rejected ever again.

          • What’s scary is that 5 justices decided that it is the right of one corporation to tread on the rights of all their employees.

          • Dan

            The employee does not need to work there if they do not agree. So they are not treading on anything. However the government was definitely treading on the employers rights.

          • No. At my last negotiation with my employer, I told them how much my next raise needed to be based on my knowledge of the field. My employer took my suggestion and improved it because they were afraid of losing me to another company. Again, my salary is not (as you put it) “entirely up to the employer”.

          • Dan

            It was up to them to give it to you or not, so yes it was.

          • They don’t “give” me anything. They “pay” me for services rendered. We negotiate how much that pay will be. So, no, it is not “entirely up to the employer.”

          • Dan

            The employer can say yes you deserve x or y. You can say no I deserve z. They can say no z is too much only y. Your response can be one of two things, I will accept y or go someplace else for z. It is entirely up to the employer to determine that and it is the employees job to respond to the offer.

          • What I “deserve”? My employer isn’t my parent. They are a party that requires my skills and services.

            My “job” is not to respond to the offer. I don’t start a “job” until I’m satisfied with an offer.

            You use words in odd ways.

          • Dan

            So if you do not agree you leave, it is that simple. The same is the case for those at Hobby Lobby, they can stay and accept what is occuring (and end up still receiving free contraceptives) or leave.

          • By that logic, when black Americans were discriminated against by employers across the south prior to civil rights legislation, all they had to do was leave, right? It is that simple.

            After all, most segregationists were acting on their sincerely held religious beliefs.

          • Dan

            Why would a person want to work in such conditions? I know I would not and I would refuse to work in such conditions. The free market would regulate such things in the end without the government.

          • So you think we didn’t need Civil rights legislation to rid ourselves of discriminatory employment of black Americans? The free market would have worked it all out in the end?

          • Dan

            Society would have corrected itself. People choose all the time regarding who they will support and who they will not. Look at Hobby Lobby, people are supporting them and that shows where society is regarding the issue.

          • Yeah, like the segregationists in the south, who before Civil Rights law, had lots of support from their local police department.

            Of course, society is correcting itself on civil rights. Society enacted laws through its representatives in congress to end segregation.

          • Dan

            Do you think it is better to change people’s minds or to force the change and make people angry and thereby refusing to change position?

            I think it is better to work with people and allow them to change their position.

          • That entirely depends on the situation. For hundreds of years abolutionists did try to change slave-holders minds about the human worth of their slaves, but in the end it took a constitutional amendment (and blood) to force the hand of slavery.

            If that’s too much of a stretch for you, try looking at pre-1938 American when employers routinely overworked their employees, including long hours for children, before labor laws forced their hand.

          • Dan

            It did not need to however.

          • Free market again? The free market would have ended slavery, indentured servitude, and child labor?

          • Dan

            Given time, yes.

          • Well, clearly it was taking too much time for the Americans beaten down by slavery, child labor, and poor working conditions.

          • Dan

            You do not know the amount of time it would have taken. Also, I am not sure you want to place that on all of the lives lost during the war.

          • I know how much time it had already taken. Lifetimes of slavery and abuse.

          • Dan

            And how many thousands dead?

            However, the fact that slavery came to an end in many places without bloodshed should be also kept in mind.

          • Sean Garrigan

            You’re comparing the situation in which employees of Hobby Lobby find themselves with that of black slaves in the American south?

            So, a company’s moral objection to paying for certain contraceptives is equivalent to a slaveholder’s belief that he has the right to beat you to death?

            Liberalism is a wacky world.

          • This comment is what seems to me to be wacky. Beau pointed out via a historical example that one cannot realistically expect employers to always offer employment, salaries, and benefits in a manner that is fair. Rather than address the point, you have chosen instead to pretend that Beau was somehow equating slavery and refusal to provide government-mandated health insurance, and then to dismiss “Liberals” because of what you are pretending he said. How does that make liberals wacky, rather than yourself?

          • Sean Garrigan

            As someone who comes from a racially mixed family, with members whose ancestors actually were slaves in the American south, I can tell you that Beau’s comparison wasn’t just wacky, it was downright offensive. Indeed, the only thing here that is more offensive than his ludicrous comparison is the fact that we have an academic who is so partisan in his politics that he is actually defending it. Incredible!

            The woman who works for Hobby Lobby has a number of options available to her that most slaves did not.

            1) She could decide that she likes working for Hobby Lobby, and that paying for her own contraceptives isn’t really all that troublesome.

            2) She can tell her partner that she won’t have sex with him unless he wears a condom. Most men when faced with the choice of wearing a condom or being denied sex will don the condom with scarcely a pause between the point of stipulation and the point of tearing the foil wrapper open.

            3) She can decide that paying for her own contraceptives is unacceptable after all, but since they are relatively inexpensive she’ll live with it until she can secure employment at a company that offers insurance that she deems satisfactory.

            4) If she’s been fragile, she can simply quit and live on her savings until she can secure satisfactory employment.

            Compare that with the choice that one ancestor, whose back looked like a plate of speghetti noodles from the terrible scaring that accumulated as a result of the whippings she endured:

            1) Live with it, and hope that the infections from the whippings don’t kill you.

          • arcseconds

            You might have a point if beau was actually maintaining the Hobby Lobby decision was equivalent to slavery, but as he wasn’t, you don’t have a point.

            The equivalence, and therefore the offense, exists entirely in your head.

            I don’t, of course, expect you to stop making this equivalence, because you utterly ignored James’s remark in favour of continuing to insist on it, leaving beau’s substantial point unaddressed. Theatrics and outrage are much easier than rational discussion, aren’t they?

            But one lives in hope.

          • Sean Garrigan

            Sorry, but I do understand Beau’s point of focus, and it doesn’t change the fact that his comparison is wacky and offensive. True, he was speaking about the period prior to civil rights legislation, whereas I moved the period back to the slavery years. Admittedly, it would have been better (to avoid misunderstanding) for me to have answered in reference to the period he had in mind, but that doesn’t change the ludicrous nature of his comparison.

            Liberals can’t see (or refuse to acknowledge) a difference between true discrimination, i.e. racial discrimination in this case, and a company’s view that they have a right not to be forced to pay for things that offend their moral values. Liberals think that because one party, perhaps the most partisan in modern history, managed to ram through legislation by which women can now get free contraceptives, that this is now a *right*, not just in some legal sense supported by the new law, but in some undefined (and probably undefinable) higher sense. Anyway, that’s the impression I’m getting from these dialogues.

            People think that, just because their party has had the power, they therefore have the *right* to force me to pay for contraceptives that I find morally objectionable by way of higher insurance premiums, and that employers subsequently don’t have a right to exclude such coverage from the policies they offer. What’s next? Will the government step in and declare that all company cars offered as perks to employees must have cigarette lighters?

            So folks here object to the court’s decision because of the precedent it sets. I can understand that, but the true source of the problem is the ill-conceived, rotten law known as the Affordable Care Act. Had it been more thoughtfully conceived, we wouldn’t find ourselves in this position.

          • arcseconds

            Well, I’m glad to see that you admit some level of preposterous comparison yourself, claiming that beau was making a comparison to slavery when he wasn’t.

            But what you still fail to acknowledge is that beau is not making a moral comparison at all, but pointing out that Dan’s argument appears to work just as well for racist employement practices. He’s not saying that not paying for contraception is morally equivalent to racist treatment of employees. He’s saying the same argument can be used in both cases: that employers can promote their religious beliefs through their employment practice, and if the employees don’t like that, then they can go somewhere else.

            (this makes your ‘slavery’ misattribution worse, because it completely undermines beau’s point. slaves don’t have a choice of any kind, legally. )

            Do you genuinely not understand this kind of argument? Is emotional appeal all you can see?

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Here’s the very point in the conversation where this became the issue:

            That’s not comparing the Hobby Lobby case to slavery.
            That’s comparing the need for government intervention to end unjust work practices and protect those without power from those with power. (Something about which Jesus had some things to say.)

            I see this argument regularly from small govt. Republicans, libertarians, and anarchists: What these groups call “free market solutions” others see as permission to discriminate.

            For an orderly and just society, free of the kind of sectarian conflict and animosity we see in other parts of the world, the government has the right and a compelling interest to guarantee equal protection under the law.

          • arcseconds

            Will the government step in and declare that all company cars offered as perks to employees must have cigarette lighters?

            Is this you saying that providing potentially medically necessary contraception (look up ‘endometriosis’ if you don’t think contraception can be medically necessary) is morally equivalent to providing cars with cigarette lighters?

            as someone with friends with endometriosis, I find this comparison obscene.

            You conservatives just can’t see the difference between genuine medical necessity and superfluous luxury items that no-one uses.

            Or maybe you weren’t trying to point out a moral equivalence here at all, but trying to show us where the same kind of argument might lead?

          • Sean Garrigan

            “as someone with friends with endometriosis, I find this comparison obscene.”

            You should have waited for me to answer your question before rushing to judgment, as I could have then clarified that I’m not talking about the use of contraceptives to treat serious medical conditions. For example, I have no problem with subsidizing via higher ins rates the use of prescription marijuana by patients with serious illnesses that cause tremendous pain, but I’d have a serious problem subsidizing its use by people who simply prefer it as their drug of choice for getting high to beat the blues.

            The point of the comparison is that employers do have a right to include or exclude various options from the non-monitory benefits they provide.

            But, again, the real problem here is the rotten, ill-conceived, partisan legislation that placed us all in these unfortunate situations. There could hardly be a better example of how NOT to “fix” the healthcare system than what the current administration saddled us with by lying to our faces about what it would and wouldn’t do for and to us.

          • arcseconds

            By the way, the Hobby Lobby decision is not about condoms. Hobby Lobby objects to four forms of contraception: Mirena IUD, the Paragard IUD, Plan-B, and Ella. IUDs are expensive, and have medical benefits aside from contraception (as do oral contraceptives), which are medically important for some women.

            And the argument as to why they object to them is based on a falsehood: the notion that these contraceptives are actually a way of having abortions. Alito carefully phrased this notion as ‘a religious belief’.

            This isn’t a petty argument about who pays for condoms. It’s far more important than that.

            The SCOTUS has decided that corporations can have religious beliefs, that the effects of medical interventions are a matter of religious beliefs, and that erroneous beliefs in this area are a reason to deny employees benefits your own Government has legislated that they should have. Even if you think employers should not, in fact, be compelled to provide insurance or anything else to their employees, the manner in which the SCOTUS has gone about winding back this particular entitlement should be extremely disturbing to you.

            Because I’d like to think anyone, no matter what their economic or religious beliefs, would be disturbed by decisions being made on such dubious rationale, and providing such perverse incentives for spurious ‘religious beliefs’.

          • Sean Garrigan

            “By the way, the Hobby Lobby decision is not about condoms.”

            I never said it was.

          • arcseconds

            Then why talk about them? Hobby Lobby never disputed funding them, and they’re perhaps the least important form of contraception to require funding, as as you say they are relatively inexpensive and don’t provide other important medical benefits, although they are, of course, reasonable protection against STDs.

          • Sean Garrigan

            Why? Reread my post. The reason I brought them up is pretty clear, i.e. options open to employees of Hobby Lobby that haven’t been open to others, who suffered true discrimination, not the manufactured discrimination under discussion here.

          • arcseconds

            Who is arguing that the employees of Hobby Lobby are the victims of discrimination?

            It might pay to work out what people are actually arguing for, before you start with the ‘you liberals are all…’

          • Sean Garrigan

            “Who is arguing that the employees of Hobby Lobby are the victims of discrimination?”

            My very point has been that, since employees of Hobby Lobby are NOT victims of discrimination, Beau’s comparison is not only invalid and ridiculous, but offensive, because it trivializes the very real and truly lamentable hardships experience by pre-civil rights Blacks by comparing them to selfish Sally’s petulant insistence that she has a right to free contraceptives.

            Let me remind you of what I was responding to, i.e. Dan said this:

            “So if you do not agree you leave, it is that simple. The same is the case for those at Hobby Lobby, they can stay and accept what is occuring (and end up still receiving free contraceptives) or leave.”

            To which Beau replied:

            “By that logic, when black Americans were discriminated against by employers across the south prior to civil rights legislation, all they had to do was leave, right? It is that simple…After all, most segregationists were acting on their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

            So it was Beau who compared the situation of modern employee’s of Hobby Lobby with that of Southern Blacks. He even added emphasis to the comparison by saying “After all, most segregationists were acting on their sincerely held religious beliefs”, which is obviously supposed to be the counterpart of Hobby Lobby’s view that they shouldn’t have to offer coverage that provides certain free contraceptives specifically because of their religious beliefs.

            It might pay to work out what people are actually arguing for, before you start with the “It might pay to work out what people are actually arguing for…”

          • Sean

            You first ludicrously said that I was comparing Hobby Lobby employees to southern slaves. I’m glad you’ve amended that idiotic accusation.

            That I am comparing Hobby Lobby employees to segregated black employees before civil rights is closer to the mark, but as arcseconds has already made clear, this is not a comparison of moral equivalency, or a comparison of the burden of their troubles – it is a comparison of the legal logic of allowing corporate employers (as opposed to churches) to avoid the dictates of the law by claiming “sincerely held religious belief”.

            It doesn’t matter whether the law requires eight hour work weeks, nondiscrimination, equal pay for men and women, a minimum wage, or medical coverage – the right for employers to

          • Sean Garrigan

            So, stepping away for a while has helped me see that I should not have responded to you as I did, and I apologize for it.

            I understand that you were speaking from the standpoint of a larger principle involving the legal logic of allowing corporate employers to avoid the dictates of the law by virtue of their religious beliefs, as you stated. The problem, as I see it, is that the application of the sort of general rule against allowing such exceptions is only appropriate insofar as it truly results in the fair treatment of *all* parties involved, not just employees. Thus, your response involving pre-Civil Rights blacks invited, even demanded the comparison of the specific details, IMO.

            Even though you were speaking from a high-level perspective, we really have no choice but to consider the various examples and determine where the universal application of such a principle might break down. Just ask the parents of the little boy who was expelled from school because he brought a butter knife to school which his grandmother gave him to bring so that he could share his birthday cake with fellow classmates. Why was he expelled? Because of the school’s rigid “no weapons” policy. An extreme example? Yes, but it shows the potential danger of trying to cure society’s problems by setting more and more inflexible rules that are applied universally without respect to the specifics of a given situation.

          • Thank you for the response. I disagree that this case has resulted in the fair treatment of all parties involved. This is a case in which the religious ideology of a few corporate heads has undermined access to women’s health options for far more people. And as one whose spouse was recommended an IUD for health reasons, I can attest that this is no light matter. And as we are already seeing, this case is opening the doors for many more corporations to seek religious exemptions from law to the detriment of their employees. A corporation is not a church.

          • In fact the only one making ludicrous and offensive comparisons here is you.

          • Sean Garrigan

            I had said:

            “…the only thing here that is more offensive than his ludicrous comparison
            is the fact that we have an academic who is so partisan in his politics
            that he is actually defending it. Incredible!”

            I wish I could un-say that, but I can’t. What I can do is apologize, and I hope you’ll accept it.


          • I’ve had to step away from the discussion, but as others have pointed out, Sean, I wasn’t making the comparison you claim I was. I was responding to Dan’s supposition that a free market economy solves all social ills.

          • Sean Garrigan

            I’m going to give you the last word on this, Beau. I’m simply too close to this subject to continue discussing it here.

            I do apologize for calling liberalism a “wacky world”. I can’t honestly say that this isn’t what I’ve often thought, most notably as I watched in bemused disbelief over the behavior of liberals during the Walker recall election in WI, but that’s another story. In any case, folks here don’t shy away from making cracks about conservatives, so I suppose it’s a wash.

          • arcseconds

            I’m going to give myself the last word on this 🙂

            Sean, the problem here is not that you called liberalism a ‘wacky world’. Whatever… a few dismissive jibes here and there are to be expected, and I think we can roll with the punches. (To the extent the term means anything at all, I agree that it’s a bit wacky, but probably for completey different reasons than you do.)

            The problem is that you continued to insist that beau asserted a moral equivalence between not paying for contraception and slavery. But that’s not what he did. It’s not what he thought he was doing, it’s not how McGrath read him, it’s not how I read him, and it’s not what the words he used actually support. It’s not even what Dan and he were talking about at the time, which had stopped being about Hobby Lobby specifically some time before!

            But you seem utterly resistant to revising what you thought he meant.

            And this isn’t primarily a problem for us. It’s a problem for you.

            I mean, it means we can’t communicate with you, and we have to put up with you saying things like ‘the problem with liberals is that they can’t tell the difference between reasonable stuff and slavery’, which is frustrating. But our experience of you is that you don’t actually care to work out what we’re actually saying, but just leap to the conclusion that we’re equating reasonable stuff with slavery and making some preposterous emotional argument that you then get all outraged about. That annoys us, but it doesn’t make us change our minds about anything, nor can we even be pulled up front by what you’re saying, because you’re ranting on about straw liberals that only live in your head.

            But it is a much bigger problem for you. You’re not a troll, you apparently come in here to try to communicate things to us, and maybe even convince us that you’re right. If you continue to just insist on misinterpreting us, you won’t be able to communicate anything to us, and you certainly won’t be able to convince us about anything, because you’ll be arguing with imaginary straw liberals, and not with us.

            Plus it just makes you look foolish. Which doesn’t help your cause either.

            Also, no doubt you prefer to understand rather than misunderstand.

          • Sean Garrigan

            I’ve recently made a “Tullian” resolution to try and avoid offering arguments that ultimately amount to little more than self justification, and I’d hate to falter so soon after doing so, but perhaps a simple point of clarification is appropriate.

            Whether Beau’s comment related specifically to the Hobby Lobby case, or was more general in its intent involving larger issues and questions doesn’t really solve the problem I have with it. I simply don’t see any context of discussion in which his response to the observation that if someone doesn’t like their current employment situation then they can seek other employment is anything but flawed at best.

          • Now, you might amend your statement to say it is “entirely up to the employer” what they offer a prospective employee. But if that offer is less than the mandate of the law for wages and benefits, then the employer is acting illegally. And if that offer is not acceptable to the prospective employee, then that prospective employee will not sign the contract to become an employee, and the employer will either have to accept the counter offer of the prospective or end the negotiation.

            Before a contract is signed, the individual is not an employee. Once an individual signs a contract and becomes an employee, the employer is obligated to pay what is stipulated in the contract, negotiated by both parties.

            A salary is not “entirely up to the employer.”

          • Dan

            A raise is entirely up to the employer and that is the point.

          • You’ve clearly never run a business.

          • Dan

            Try going to an employer and say I demand this for pay, it is their job to determine if you deserve that. It is entirely up to the employer to determine the worth.

          • No, an employer doesn’t determine what I deserve; an employer tries to determine whether they can afford my services, or if they can get better services for less pay; but I am not their employee unless they are willing to negotiate with me.

          • Dan

            They can negotiate but it is still them determining what they want to pay you in the end. They can determine that you only deserve minimum wage and only offer you that after negotiations. It is still them determining, not you.

          • Do you not understand the word “negotiation”?

          • Dan

            You can negotiate all you want, but the employer does not have to agree in the end if they do not want to with you.

            Yes I understand the word. We just have very different views on the world.

          • Clearly we have different views on the world. You seem to prefer the feudal system, in which we’re all beholdin’ to our masters.

          • Dan


          • The employer can negotiate all he wants but the employee does not have to agree to work for an unacceptable salary. Two-way street.

          • Dan

            Yes, that is the point. People can choose to leave and work where they want. And that is the case with Hobby Lobby. They do not need to work there and the people who are upset with the case, I am not sure why they would want to stay. That is the point.

  • D Rizdek

    I don’t have much sympathy for Hobby Lobby in this issue. It seems they give their employees little choice but to quit and work elsewhere or pay for some of the medical care they want though some other plan…which might be pretty costly.

    • Dan

      Which is exactly what every employer does. An employee can choose where to work.

      And according to the ruling they are still going to get the contraceptives just like everybody else. Just as if the employee was working for the church.

      • Actually, they asked for a special exemption, allowing them to break contract with employees. The contract they had with the employees stipulated that health coverage would be provided (meeting the minimum federal requirements). What they are asking for is no different than asking for an exemption to paying minimum wage.

        As for the “they’ll just get it somewhere else” excuse, that appears to be far more complicated than the majority decision made it sound, and it certainly adds a lot more complication to the process for employees who, for the most part, lack the resources and time to pursue the matter.

        • Dan

          Only if you believe the government will make it difficult. They did not make it difficult for employees of the various churches. And it will not be the employees who will have to figure it out, it will be the government and the insurance companies.

          • Actually, that’s still an open question. It seems that some of those churches are refusing the fill out the required paperwork, leaving employees in the lurch. Their right to be exempt from filling out the exemption paperwork is still to be decided, but it’s possible that it may become an issue.

            Either way, it means having to deal with two separate insurance companies for the employee.

          • Dan

            Not necessarily, the insurance company that is used by the company could offer the contraceptives and it would be like nothing is different if the employers insurance plan offered it in the first place. It depends on the government and the insurance company and how easy they want to make contraceptives available to the employees.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            So you are expecting that the insurance companies will step forward voluntarily and act benevolently and altruistically of their own free will.

          • Dan

            No, I am expecting the Obama Administeation to do what it does best, to force the insurance companies to do so against their will.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Healthcare reform was a negotiated compromise. In exchange for certain concessions on the part of the insurance companies (getting rid of pre-existing conditions; not dropping people when they get sick; covering preventive health care visits, testing, and medications like vaccines and contraception) they would receive millions of new enrollees by way of the previously uninsured.

            This was also a negotiated compromise among Congressional leaders to keep a market-based health care system that was for-profit and didn’t include a public, single payer, universal option.

            This is how compromises work.

            Somewhat like an employment contract, the likes of which you keep saying if you don’t like, you are free to find a new place to sojourn.

          • Dan

            Healthcare reform was not a compromise. A compromise would have received at least one Republican vote. It was railroaded through both the house and the Senate and that is why we have the mess we have today. If it was actually a compromise we would have something worthwhile.

  • Shawn

    If this is true, then why don’t employers offer a cash fringe benefit that the employee can choose to use on health insurance if they want to? That would eliminate all of this nonsense.

    • A single payer health care system would eliminate all of this just as well, and even quite a bit better. Cut the employer out entirely.

      • AtalantaBethulia

        You would have thought that the pro-business lobby would have pushed for this a long time ago, especially as competition has become globalized.

        • Between you and me, I don’t think the pro-business lobby is actually pro-business. I think they might more accurately be called the “got mine” lobby.

    • arcseconds

      Why did employers, prior to the ACA, provide health insurance in the first place?

      If it’s just a matter of either paying some money to employees, or paying the same money to the insurance companies, where the employees could get the same insurance by paying the money themselves, then there seems little point in providing insurance as part of remuneration.

      • AtalantaBethulia

        Re: “If it’s just a matter of either paying some money to employees, or paying the same money to the insurance companies, where the employees could get the same insurance by paying the money themselves,”

        But they can’t (I don’t believe.) They can’t get the same insurance paying the money themselves at the same rate. Employers can employ economies of scale and leverage their buying power by negotiating lower premiums and costs with insurance companies because of larger scale purchasing than an individual can. That’s what a group rate is.

        • arcseconds

          Exactly. That is why employers didn’t offer a cash fringe benefit. Also, there’s presumably tax benefits this way: I imagine you don’t pay income tax on the money used to pay for your health insurance (I’m not American and nor have I lived in America, so some of the details elude me).

          So that largely answers Shawn’s question: prior to the ACA, employers did provide insurance rather than just cash because it allowed them to offer their employees a substantially better deal than if they offered cash only.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            And because it’s the status quo.

    • Government mandated health insurance coverage by employers was a compromise to get health reform of some kind passed. A single payer system would eliminate the problem as well, but offering employees money to pay for insurance would not work.

      The reason is simple. Some people will choose not to purchase health care, especially poor people already struggling with every dollar they have, (also some people who CAN afford the insurance but are just too dumb to do so). And as a society, we are not cruel enough (thank God) to turn them away from the hospital when they come to the emergency room with a life-threatening illness or injury.

      We end up paying as a society either way. We either pay collectively for health care, or we pay when destitute uninsured people get costly treatment at a hospital for conditions that could have been prevented with regular visits to a doctor. The second option is way less cost effective than the first.

      … or we could just decide that if someone shows up at a hospital with no insurance, we just let them die on the streets.

  • Sure, it’s your employer’s money. That’s why they call it “employer-sponsored health insurance”.

    • AtalantaBethulia

      Unless the employer pays 100% of the premium, you also contribute to the premium. Why can’t the employer choose to believe that the portion of the premium paid by the employee is what goes toward those things to which they object?

  • Ironic beginnings of Employer Health Insurance:

    Franklin Roosevelt stupidly froze wages –> employers then used Health insurance to entice better workers (getting around Roosevelt’s stupidity) –> Doctors see rise in business — > Using AMA Docs influence govt. to tie health insurance to employment to increase their business.

  • R Vogel

    I wish I had smart friends like Brad – I have made this point about a dozen times in the last 2 weeks. My friends still don’t get it.