February 09, 2012
A Solution to the Contraception Insurance Issue
The administration has signaled that it is looking for a compromise to the contraception insurance issue. How about this? Those employers who conscientiously oppose providing contraception insurance to their employees should not be able to profit from a religious exemption. Accordingly, the employers should be required to increase employees' wages by the amount the employers save because of a religious exemption.
The employer might not want to pay higher wages, but could have no serious religious objection to the requirement. Employees could use the money to purchase insurance for contraception if they wished or for other purposes at their option.
From the perspective of the administration, this proposal has a disadvantage. A major reason for requiring employers to include contraception as a part of their insurance was to encourage greater use of preventative services by employees. One way to mitigate this disadvantage would be to afford a tax deduction for the premiums required to purchase contraception insurance. The fringe benefit of insurance was not taxable in the first place. Indeed, from the perspective of the administration, it would make sense to make all contraception expenses tax deductible or, alternatively, even a tax credit. If the evidence showed that tax policy of this character would increase contraception, we could expect abortions to decline in turn. Of course, the Catholic Church would oppose any such tax policy on moral grounds, but it could not argue that the policy would violate its religious freedom.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Solution to the Contraception Insurance Issue:
I think this is a very constructive proposal.
Posted by: william brennan | Feb 9, 2012 8:32:51 PM
"...should not be able to profit from a religious exemption."
No doubt, Religious Liberty is protected in our Constitution because our Founding Fathers believed that what Man profits from saving his soul is priceless.
Posted by: N.D. | Feb 10, 2012 9:19:18 AM
Hi Professor Shiffrin,
Unfortunately, your proposal makes too much sense. It doesn't have a chance because both sides don't get a chance to scream from their rooftops over it.
Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Feb 10, 2012 9:58:24 AM
If the exempt employer must provide a wage supplement, the employee can use it for anything -- it's no different than other wages. That sounds like a plus. But I wonder if a) male employees should get the wage supplement (they are still being fully insured); b) if males don't, wouldn't the resulting sex discrimination be unlawful?; c) over time, wouldn't the wage supplement just get lost in new wage increases (i.e., we'll give you a smaller raise because we are giving you this supplement, and how will you ever know that)?
Posted by: Chip Lupu | Feb 10, 2012 12:00:57 PM
Thanks for responding. Very good questions. I had not thought of the
first. If the contraception insurance covers the family of the
employed, I would distribute the wage increases to males and
females. If not, I would distribute them to females only and amend
Title Vii if necessary. As to your last point, in a competitive wage
market, the employees should receive the same economic value as
provided to other competitors, and employers should legally be
barred from lowering or not raising wages because of the supplement.
Perhaps religious employers would recognize a moral obligation to
obey the law.
Nonetheless, I expect that over time the supplement might well get
lost though I do not think this should prevent it from being adopted
in the present.
By the way, I think that my proposal would need to be combined with
the proposals discussed by Tom and Bob on MOJ in order to be
effective because insurance companies would otherwise charge more
for the insurance than the wage supplement would provide since those
seeking contraception insurance are far more likely to take
advantage of it than the general population of employees.
Posted by: Steve Shiffrin | Feb 10, 2012 4:03:18 PM
I have thought throughout this that a refundable tax credit would be a sensible solution.
Posted by: John Infranca | Feb 10, 2012 5:58:01 PM