by Geneva Gleason
When you buy a shirt or pair of shoes, you don’t often consider the consequences of that purchase beyond your use of the product. However, your consumer dollar goes further than simply paying for the materials used to make the product: employees need to be compensated, part of which includes health care. Sometimes this healthcare is left to the employee’s discretion, but some companies want to put restrictions on employees’ access to certain things like birth control.
Young consumers need to be aware of corporations’ health insurance policies when they shop so that their purchases do not contradict their political beliefs. This benefits not only the employees in question but also our generation because we will soon be employees ourselves.
According to plannedparenthoodaction.org, despite the law that states that your health insurance must cover basic preventative birth control with no co-pays, some employees still need to ask their bosses for permission to use company health insurance for birth control. There are also exceptions to the law that allow religiously affiliated institutions to avoid offering insurance coverage for contraception.
In short, it is possible for a private company to deny an employee access to affordable birth control. According tonytimes.com, an estimated one third of Americans are employed by companies that are not required to provide coverage for contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act.
Two of these companies have been profiled in recent Supreme Court cases, fighting for the right to deny coverage for contraceptives: Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores owned by a Christian family, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Mennonite family that makes wood cabinets, according to nytimes.com. Though these two companies are not necessarily stores at which young consumers would shop regularly, if the Supreme Court grants exceptions to them, conservatively-minded companies such as Urban Outfitters, whose CEO has been known to donate to Family-PACs, could take advantage of the precedent and take away access to contraceptives as well.
Though companies have the legal right to provide or not provide birth control, we should be educated both as consumers and future employees. When applying for jobs and choosing employers, it is imperative that we understand and pay attention to the healthcare policies our employers provide.