Businesses Providing Birth Control Products
I as Con want this requirement to go out of effect, Pro must want the opposite.
First Round will be for acceptance. Otherwise the debate format is unstructured.
Please note the 48 hour response time limit.
I favor that the Affordable Care Acts requires health insurance policies to cover birth control products.
I disagree with the idea that companies have the right to take away parts of the insurance coverage of their
employees, because of the personal preferences of the employers.
Not to be pedantic, but the title of this debate is misleading, because businesses are not required to buy birth control products for their employees.
I will argue PRO.
1) Religious Freedom
The right to religious freedom is found in our First Amendment. It protects religious establishments from being impeded from practicing their beliefs, or suffering due to their beliefs. If Christian business owners had to purchase insurance packages that provided services and items their religion considered to be intrinsically immoral, that would be an example of Christians being impeded from practicing their religion's belief. If this mandate for insurance with contraceptives was only applied to public institutions, to government institutions, that would be a different matter. However this isn't the case, and private businesses should not be forced to act in violation of their beliefs.
2) Price of non-compliance
My opponent mentioned that businesses are not required to provide these birth control services to their employees. This is true, they are required to either provide the mandated insurance packages or to pay fines, but the fines involved put businesses between a rock and a hard place. The fines would wreck just about any business. The way this is set up, it might as well be between two options: 1) Violate your beliefs, or 2) Be so heavily fined your business is likely to fail.
The fine is $100 (on average) per employee not covered properly according to the mandate, per day. An example of the damage this can cause to a business is found in this link. One man's business could lose over 9 millions dollars in a year if he follows his faith. Refer back to those two options. Either would be an example of a violation of the First Amendment. Christian business owners will either be forced to violate their beliefs or be severely punished for staying true to their beliefs.
3) Discrimination in Hiring
Consider this. If a new government mandate requires businesses to provide items and services to women that they consider to be immoral, isn't there a possibility for gender discrimination? Definitely not in all businesses, but it isn't unrealistic to suggest you would see businesses hiring men instead of women to avoid covering costs of birth control insurances. Many people may point to the laws in place to prevent hiring/workplace discrimination. While businesses must technically follow these rules, they can come up with legally acceptable reasons for why a person who they are in reality illegally discriminating against should not be hired. Take Hooters for example. Technically they're not allowed to discriminate based on age or weight, but you haven't seen any 55 year old, 290lb waitresses there, have you? Given their uniforms, I certainly hope not.
Private businesses should be protected from these mandates of the ACA, as they violate their First Amendment Right. To comply with this mandate would be to not practice your faith, and to resist the mandate would be financially disastrous. Whichever option is taken, the First Amendment is being violated. If these requirements weren't removed, there is the possibility for an increase in gender discrimination in hiring.
1. Employees have EARNED their health care benefits
“Indirect Compensation definition
Non-monetary remuneration provided to employees, including annual leave, overtime allowance, health insurance, life assurance, company car and mobile and pension funds. Note that both ‘standard’ contractual features (annual leave) as well as valuable benefits (health care) can be included in indirect compensation.
Indirect compensation compares to direct compensation, which is monetary remuneration paid directly to employees for their services, starting with a basic salary. The total remuneration package is a combination of direct compensation and indirect compensation.”
For their work, employees are compensated by direct and indirect compensation. Direct income is their regular paycheck. Indirect compensation (see the definition above) includes health insurance. In other words, employees have earned their benefits.
2. Employers do not have the right to restrict how employees spend their salary
Since employees have earned their salary and their benefits, so these are rightfully theirs. So employers can decide how to spend their own money, but they cannot decide how the employees spend their money. It is the same for indirect compensation. Employers cannot take away part of the employee’s indirect compensation that they are legally entitled to.
Should a Hindu, Buddhist or Jainist employer be allowed to reduce the salary of an employee if they spend part of their salary on eating meat? The employer would argue, that it is against his religion to pay for slaughtering animals.
Suppose that the employer is a Jehovah’s Witness, whose faith does not allow blood transfusions. Should the government make an exception and not require that the health insurance covers blood transfusions?
If I am a pacifist, should I be allowed not to pay taxes, if some of these taxes are spent on wars that I do not approve of and go against my conscience?
This kind of logic does not make sense.
Christian business owners look at this the wrong way. They are not responsible for the choices of their employees. Their concern that they are birth control products is misplaced.
Here is a solution:
The health care premiums of employees whose object to birth control, will only go towards non-birth control costs. And a larger share of the health care premiums of all other employers will go to birth control costs. This way, all employers will still pay the same, but Christian Business Owners no longer have to have the feeling that they are paying for birth control.
Of course the “solution” above means no change at all in practice. It is a psychological solution to a psychological problem of perception.
3. price of non-compliance
“Faith” cannot be an excuse to break the law. So there is no problem with fining business who break the law. These Christian business owners can use the political process to change the law. Until then, they have to obey the law. This is the democratic process.
Opponent: “Definitely not in all businesses, but it isn't unrealistic to suggest you would see businesses hiring men instead of women to avoid covering costs of birth control insurances.”
Because of the affordable care act, health insurance companies are not allowed to charge more health care premiums for woman than for men. In other words, the affordable care act prevents gender discrimination. So, the affordable care act does not allow health insurance companies to charge extra to cover for birth control products.
5. Religious freedom of employees
Freedom of religion is limited when the freedom of religion takes away the right of other people. We also have to take into account the religions freedom of the employee. For example, the religion of the employee may require the employee to prevent unnecessary suffering. If the employee is pregnant with an embryo that will be born with birth defects, will have severe pain, and will have only a short time to live. It may well be employee’s opinion, that a termination is the moral thing to do according to her faith.
The infringement of the employees rights could be seen as religious bullying as explained in the following opinion piece:
Employees have earned their benefits, and employers have not the right to make decisions against the coverage that the employees are entitled to according to the law.
The argument that the Affordable Care Act might lead to discrimination is invalid, because the Affordable Care Act prevents gender discrimination.
As long as employees have performed the tasks their job requires, then they earn their wages and health care benefits. But the employers, who set the required tasks, also get to set the rewards as they please. If potential workers don't like what's being offered, then they don't have to take the job.
Rebuttal 2: 'Employers do not have the right to restrict how employees spend their salary'
My opponent second point is that employers can't tell their employees how to spend their money. This is definitely true, however I don't believe this should sway anybody's opinion in favor of Pro. And it is for this reason: employers can still decide what to give their employees. They can't tell their employees what to do with what they give them, but they can control what they give them. What is given lies in the responsibility of the employers, what is done with what is given, is the responsibility of employees.
The next thing I'd like to refute is a single sentence out of this argument, whose refutation I think needs a little space.
"Employers cannot take away part of the employee's indirect compensation that they are legally entitled to."
The part of this that needs discussion is the mention of legal entitlement. I don't think this is something that needs to be considered when deciding whether or not the situation at hand is right, because if it is wrong, and if enough people bring the argument to others and convince them, the law can be changed. In this debate, it doesn't matter what the law is, because this is over whether or not the law is right.
Next my opponent makes several examples to illustrate his point, and after finishing them says, "This kind of logic does not make sense." I assume my opponent is referring to how his examples cannot be acceptable and yet the one at hand should be. If that was what my position was, then yes, it wouldn't make sense. However, I don't think his examples are showing employers acting in the wrong, or potential tax payers acting in the wrong. I see people acting according to their beliefs. Certainly, a Jehovah's witness employer can restrict access to a service he believes is immoral. And no, a pacifist should not have to help fund violence. I have more to say on this but I will save it for my closing round.
Rebuttal 3, 'price of non-compliance'
I return to my idea of this debate about this being about whether or not the law should be around, or whether or not it is right. To say my opponent says the democratic process should be used to change the law. Yes, I agree. I do not believe this argument changes anything within the debate.
Rebuttal 4, 'Religious freedom of employees'
Next my opponent gives an example of an employee whose religion mandates they get an abortion in a certain scenario. I do not believe this situation puts the argument in my opponent's favor however. The nice thing about America is that through our freedoms allowed to us, there is a host of options out there for people. Not every employer is religious, or allows their religious preferences to influence insurances services. People can review the options for insurance and choose what's best for them.
My opponent argues in “rebuttal 1” and “rebuttal 2” that employees DO have earned their benefits (including health care) but that employers have the discretion how to compensate their employees
First of all, we are talking about large companies (>50 employees). Smaller businesses are not required to provide health care for their employees.
Having a legal business structure has several advantages, it provides personal protection (owner does not have to pay all the debt when the business goes bankrupt), tax advantages, etc.
On the other hand, there are also obligations. Companies have to withhold federal /state income taxes, social security and Medicare taxes. So the company mediates between the government and the employee. Large companies are also required handle health care insurance for their employees. Again, this should be viewed as an obligation not a right. The government requires the employee to have health care
(which mandates coverage for birth control). Companies have some discretion in choosing the health care, so that they can get a better deal by collective bargaining.
This discretion should not be interpreted as a right. The company is still mediating between the government and the employee .
If anyone would have a right to reject the mandate for birth control coverage, it would be the employee.
The government requires everyone to have health care. For employees of large companies, employers are charged with the administrative task to make sure that employees have coverage.
What is covered by the insurance concerns the employee, the insurance company and the government, but not really the employer. The employee, insurance company and government all have incentives for contraception coverage.
If the employee uses contraception, she gets coverage for it. If she does not use it, it does not matter. Note that most women, even catholic ones, use or have used some kind of contraception.
The insurance has a financial incentive to cover contraception, because it is cheaper. (More about this later.)
The government ‘s goal is to provide the cheapest health care with the best coverage for its people.
My opponent dropped her argument that the mandate would lead to discrimination
What is reasonable?
A pacifist should not have forced to fight in a war. (If there is a war draft he could do a different useful war.) That would be reasonable. It would be unreasonable if he does not pay taxes because some tax money will go to defense.
A catholic employer should not have to buy contraception for their employees. That is reasonable. But it would be unreasonable for the employer, not to regulate health care insurance for the employees if these insurance policies happen to cover contraception.
My opponent even believes, that a Jehovah’s witness should have a right to prevent an employee from having health insurance that covers (possibly life-saving) blood transfusions. Well, that seems to me unreasonable.
Employers cannot argue that they would be paying for contraception
First of all, contraception coverage is cheaper than no contraception coverage.
“Some studies have looked at cost-savings for private insurers specifically. Notably, the federal government, the nation’s largest employer, reported that it experienced no increase in costs at all after Congress required coverage of contraceptives for federal employees in 1998. A 2000 study by the National Business Group on Health, a membership group for large private- and public-sector employers to address their health policy concerns, estimated that it costs employers 15–17% more to not provide contraceptive coverage in employee 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, conducted a similar analysis that year and also concluded that contraceptive coverage should be cost-saving for employers.”
Suppose that employers were given the option not to pay for the coverage certain procedures/products that they object to. For example, instead of contribution to contraception coverage, they would pay for child birth coverage instead. In that case, the cost of contraception coverage would come from other employers who do not have the same objections. But giving employers such option would mean a lot more unnecessary administration, and in the end it would not make any difference.
MyDinosaurHands forfeited this round.
Large companies get certain perks (tax benefits, bankruptcy protection). In return, they have certain obligations such as mediating between government and employees to make sure that the employees have health insurance. Health insurance are a part of the benefits that an employee has earned. So employers do not have a right to take away parts of the benefits of their employees.
Whether the health insurance should have coverage for birth control is a matter between the employee, the insurance company and the government, and is not the business of the employee.
The objection of some employers that they would be paying for birth control which is against their religion is misplaced. Health insurance that covers birth control is cheaper than health insurance that does not cover it.
My opponent has dropped her argument that such a mandate would lead to discrimination, because, as I pointed out, the Affordable Care Act eliminates gender discrimination by requiring insurance companies to charge women and men the same premiums.
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