From my soapbox:
Dear ladies: I really couldn’t care less whether you use birth control or not. In addition, I couldn’t care less whether either I or my employer subsidizes your birth control via insurance premiums. (For those of you who aren’t aware, that’s one part of the debate that people almost have right, as cross-subsidy is how insurance works. Also, for the record, I am, in fact, a woman.) What I do care about is women acting as victims rather than combatants in the supposed “war on women.”
You can read the full article here. An astute colleague asked if one market outcome would consist of employers trying to specifically attract non-breeders. I am not sure of the answer to this, except to say that I think we have anti-discrimination laws in part because there are incentives for firms to hire non-breeders anyway. (For example, subsidizing my health insurance is cheaper for an employer than subsidizing the health insurance of a woman with three kids.) I recall that Stephen Colbert had a brilliant bit on this a while back where he talked about how firms should hire ugly people because then the firms wouldn’t have to worry about insurance coverage for spouses or kids. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to locate the clip, so if any of you know what I’m talking about, I would be very grateful for a source.
Another astute lawyer friend of mine asserted that the decision to not cover contraceptives must be a moral one since it costs an employer money to not provide such coverage:
Moreover, a 2000 study by the National Business Group on Health, a membership group for large employers to address their health policy concerns, estimated that it costs employers 15–17% more to not provide contraceptive coverage in their health plans than to provide such coverage, after accounting for both the direct medical costs of pregnancy and indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity. Mercer, the employee benefits consulting firm, reached a similar conclusion. And a more recent National Business Group on Health report, drawing on actuarial estimates by PricewaterhouseCoopers, concluded that even if contraception were exempted from cost-sharing, the savings from its coverage would exceed the costs.
Well then…I think friend has a point, but I don’t entirely overlook the possibility that employers could just be ignorant of costs in some cases. Either way, it doesn’t affect the overall argument that, if women vote with their feet, employers have an incentive to provide contraceptive coverage in the form of a larger employee pool. If employers are willing to hurt their bottom lines in order to exert some ethical control over their employees, then…I really don’t know, since I’m really not in the business of deciding whether it’s the government’s job to regulate ethics.