Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Stop with Contraception?

Those who follow the news know that the left is upset over conservatives' unreasonable unwillingness to require insurance companies and private employers to cover birth control expenses and to, in effect, subsidize the sex lives of their employees. In the left's typically understated rhetoric, the Republican reluctance to jettison the First Amendment's guarantee of a freedom of religion from state interference is proof that they're waging a "War on Women".

Allysia Finley, in a humorous piece in the Wall Street Journal, thinks mandating birth control coverage is not going far enough, actually. There are many other things that the government should require stingy insurance companies and employers to cover for their employees. She presents her proposals in a witty, tongue-in-cheek letter to President Obama. Here's part of it:
Dear President Obama,

Can you believe the nerve of employers? Many of them still seem to think that they should be allowed to determine the benefits they offer. I guess they haven't read your 2,000-page health law. It's the government's job now.

That's a good thing, too. Employers for too long have been able to restrict our access to essential health services like contraception by making us pay some of the bill. Really, it's amazing that we aren't all dead. Now, thanks to you, we'll enjoy free and universal access to preventative care just like workers do in Cuba. Even so, there are still many essential benefits that the government must mandate to make the U.S. the freest country in the world.

Fitness club memberships. Most doctors agree that exercising is one of the best ways to prevent disease. However, gym memberships can run between $240 and $1,800 per year. Such high prices force us to choose between exercising and buying groceries. While we could walk or jog outside, many of us prefer not to. Therefore, employers should be required to pay for workers' gym memberships. Doing so might even reduce employers' health costs, which is why many companies already subsidize memberships. Those that don't are limiting our freedom to exercise.

Coffee. Studies show that coffee can ward off depression, Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes and sleepiness—which makes it one of the most powerful preventive treatments. Workers who drink java are also more productive and pleasant. While many offices have coffee makers, some employers—most notably those affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—continue to deny workers this essential benefit. All employers should have to provide workers with freshly brewed coffee. Oh, and workers must also be able to choose the kind of coffee regardless of the price.

Republicans might argue that requiring Mormon charities to serve coffee is a violation of "religious liberty" since the Mormon church's doctrine proscribes coffee, but this argument is a red herring. Leading medical experts recommend drinking coffee. Moreover, 99% of adults have drunk coffee at one point in their lives (including most Mormons).
Finley has more amusing suggestions at the link. She argues, for instance, that insurance companies should be required to cover employee massage therapy and salad bars in the workplace. She recognizes, of course, that getting Republicans to go along with mandating these coverages would be difficult, but, she concludes, if the president can justify a mandate on individuals to buy health insurance what she's proposing should be "a piece of cake".