Are you ready to march into your boss's office and demand affordable birth control? Or at least ask politely?
We know it sounds awkward, but you'd better get ready. Right now, certain bosses have sued for the right to deny people who work for them insurance coverage for birth control. That's bad enough, but (surprise!) a bunch of members of Congress are standing with them.
Truth is, we all benefit from birth control coverage — with fewer unintended pregnancies, healthier families, and women more in control of their futures. But if anti-birth control forces get their way, any employer will be able to deny you coverage for it.
If you are a person who uses birth control, or know someone who does — actually, wait, that's pretty much all people, so we'll assume you are... So, if you're a person in the workforce who collects a paycheck from somebody else, read on for a helpful Q and A on how to ask your boss for birth control, and what you can expect.
Q. Hi, I would like to use birth control. And my doctor agrees it's the right thing for me. She gave me a prescription and everything. What do I have to do to get my insurance to pay for it?
A. First things first: You should get input from your boss before you decide to start using birth control.
Q. Yeah, turns out I’m not all that interested in my boss’s opinion on this. Why should I have to do that?
A. Because your boss says so.
Q. Wait, but Congress passed a law saying my health insurance has to cover basic preventive care with no copays. And millions of women use birth control every day for contraception and to manage conditions like ovarian cysts. Clearly, this is basic, preventive health care.
A. That’s correct, but you’ll still need to get your boss to agree.
Q. So just because some bosses don’t like birth control, they decided they should have the power to deny the women who work for them coverage. Couldn’t they just, I don’t know, not use birth control if they’re so against it?
A. That would be one approach, but it wouldn’t solve the problem of your having access to affordable contraception if your boss doesn’t want you to.
Q. It’s my body and my health. Shouldn’t this really be up to me and my doctor?
A. You would think that would be the case. But, you’re forgetting the fact that a few people think birth control is icky and say that they don’t want government tax dollars to pay for it.
Q. But that’s simply not true. Tax dollars don’t pay for my birth control benefit…
A. You’re right. But it doesn’t really matter. I think you’re forgetting the fact that your boss, specifically, is one of the few people who thinks birth control is icky and he doesn’t want his organization's insurance plan to cover it.
Q. But I pay for my health insurance. I pay the premiums, and health insurance is part of what I earn by doing my job. It’s not a special gift from my employer, it’s compensation. What’s next? Is my boss going to tell me what I can and can’t spend my paychecks on?
A. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Q. Doesn’t it matter at all if I work for a regular private company? Not a church or synagogue or mosque or faith-based nonprofit or even associated with any religion at all?
A. That almost matters! President Obama did make exceptions for religiously affiliated institutions so they could avoid offering insurance coverage for contraception — but a bunch of those bosses sued to avoid the pesky paperwork that gives them the exception they wanted. Oh, and don't forget about the Hobby Lobby case, which let bosses at private companies block coverage they didn't like.
Q. So no matter where I work, if I want my health insurance, which I pay for, to cover birth control, which my doctor and I agree I should have, what do I have to do?
A. Just ask your boss nicely. Maybe try on a Friday afternoon when he's looking ahead to the weekend, or right after he gets back from vacation so he's in a better mood. You just have to convince him that you have a really good reason for wanting birth control. After all, your medical decisions really should be between you, your doctor, your boss, and probably a few politicians.
Q. And if I think that's a ridiculous invasion of privacy and I don't want anyone — politicians or employers — blocking my access to affordable health care?
A. Then say so! Try Twitter. And keep fighting for birth control with no copays online and IRL.