Mark L. Hopkins: The Supreme Court takes a swipe at ‘Obamacare’
The headlines say that the Supreme Court dealt a blow to “Obamacare.” Maybe, and maybe not. What their recent ruling did was to cast a shadow over the approach our country has taken to providing health care to our people. In short, Hobby Lobby should never have been put in the position they were, where they might have been forced to provide coverage that their leadership disagreed with on religious grounds. The Supreme Court ruling highlights the illogic of using employer-sponsored health insurance as the primary facilitator for health coverage in the United States.
One thing is for sure with this latest ruling, the Supreme Court has not denied anyone access to contraception. Women who work at Hobby Lobby can still purchase birth control at the corner drug store. The issue being debated, as is so often the case, is cost. It isn’t free. An interesting irony is that for Hobby Lobby employees, Viagra is available to men free of cost while contraception for women is not.
I should pause for a moment and point out that Obamacare is not universal health care as some have inferred. It is, instead, a re-regulation of the insurance industry that coerces everyone into coverage and restricts insurance companies from refusing coverage to those with prior conditions who, obviously, need the coverage most.
In the Hobby Lobby ruling, the major issue we should be concerned with is the dependence we have on workplace health insurance. We are the only major industrial nation that uses the workplace as the primary health insurance provider. It is a practice that began following World War II when salaries were frozen to help control inflation. Business and Industry used fringe benefits like insurance and retirement funds to attract employees. That practice gives the employer control over the insurance coverage their employees will have as opposed to the individual having control. It also means that when the employee leaves that job they leave their coverage behind. Both of these issues are major problems for a portion of our workforce. Some insurance “experts” have pointed to workplace insurance coverage as running up the cost and still providing inferior coverage. In addition, this approach puts our businesses at a major disadvantage when attempting to compete in the international marketplace versus companies from other countries. Our international competition does not have to inflate the cost of their products in order to provide health coverage to their employees.
The Supreme Court ruling regarding this aspect of Obamacare is a good thing if it makes us take another look at the broader issue of who should provide health coverage for our people in the United States.
Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.