Monday, January 23, 2012

Contraception coverage mandate and irony in Catholic church

The Obama administration has put forward legislation that will mandate insurance coverage for contraception (in all forms) for women in the United States as outlined in this article in the New York Times.  Organizations that have not provided such in the past due to religious beliefs, such as the Catholic church, have until August of 2013 to adopt this new coverage. 

PA Pro Now succinctly covered this issue addressing the need for healthcare parity by noting that this new law will require that the insurance carrier offer contraception benefits without a copay or deductible.

Irony in respect for diversity and respect for women's health rights

The Catholic church is opposed to this action as they see any birth control, other than selective abstinence, as precluding the sanctity of life and against their moral teachings.
Oral contraceptives
I got this.  I am for the sanctity of life.  But I am also for the right to our reproductive freedom and freedom from our employers mandates as they infringe upon these very personal choices.

How people (and I say PEOPLE to include men as well as women here) choose to handle their ability to procreate is deeply personal. It often impacts on their current health, medical history and medical choices.  Where is there room to factor in here the mandate from your employer to not use birth control?  And then why isn't your employer (fill in name of Catholic institution) more supportive of those employees who are having families in the care of their infants and children when need time off for their birth and care?  Why do they then refer their employees to the minimal time offered by the federal government for the Family Medical Leave act?  Why aren't they more supportive of the result of avoiding birth control then for their employees?

Draping crosses

I have been, and still am, an employee of a large Catholic hospital and now a Catholic college.
The hospital I worked for in Baton Rouge, employed several thousand people of diverse backgrounds and religious affiliations.  I found it interesting that in their three day orientation for new employees they stressed that their hospital, though run by the Franciscan Sisters, accepts, supports and embraces all faiths and religions in regards to their patients needs.  They offered examples of patients of the Muslim faith who requested that the crucifix (which are in every patient room) in their room be draped with a cloth.  And the hospital assisted them in draping a piece of fabric over the cross in their room.  They encouraged all of us to reach out to others from diverse religious backgrounds and to embrace, respect and understand their beliefs.

I recall thinking at the time that these were laudable aspects of their mission.  But I was disheartened when those lofty ideals did not extend to honoring birth control insurance coverage for their employees.

Personal cost of contraception

And not all birth control is as affordable as $30-$50 per month (the approximate monthly outlay for oral contraceptives).  For those women who have a contraindication for oral contraceptives, or who wish to choose an alternate method, some of the other contraception options cost upward of $1000-$3000.  These costs are substantial and not always an option for many working women.

Cost to the employer?

Typically, employers are very aware of providing a safe and comfortable working environment for their employees.  And the employer, often seeks awareness of employee dissatisfaction so that they can improve their management and retain valuable employees.

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center conducted annual surveys of all departments and employees conducted by an outside management team to record and track just this type of employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction and they worked on addressing the causes of problems.

So, that being said, what is the cost of alienating your employees everyday they come to the workplace by disavowing this important aspect of their personal healthcare management?

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