Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Mirror Test II

So there's this guy I know. We'll call him Frank. Frank has a heart condition, and has had to undergo numerous medical treatments and takes several medications every day. Everyone says it's a blessing that he has such good health insurance. In fact, years ago Frank switched jobs to work for his current employer precisely because the medical and dental insurance were so good. All of his working life he has faithfully paid his portion of the premium, and now it's paying off. He's getting the care he needs.

In another office down the hall from Frank there's a young woman. We'll call her Megan. Megan also had a couple different employers to choose from and like Frank, one of the reasons she chose her current employer is because of the health coverage. All of her working life she has faithfully paid her portion of the health insurance premium. In conjunction with her employer, she is paying for health insurance.

Nobody ever says that Frank is wanting something for free. Nobody refers to his employer as Uncle Sugar. Nobody suggests that he ought not get the medical care he needs because his "lifestyle" brought on this particular need. Nobody says "if you want to dance you have to pay the piper." This in spite of the fact that Frank spent years eating lots of red meat and very few fruits and veggies, and living an extremely sedentary lifestyle. He made personal choices that directly contributed to his current condition. Yet everyone is happy that Frank was able to purchase health care coverage at an affordable price.

But Megan? If she wants her health insurance to cover her prescriptions (such as contraception) then she is wanting something for free. She is whoring herself out to Uncle Sugar. She's asking us to pay for something that results from her personal choices - from her "lifestyle." If she wants to dance, then she ought to pay the piper. Nobody remembers that she is doing the exact same thing that Frank is doing - working a job where she earns affordable insurance coverage as a part of her compensation package.

Funny, don't you think?


  1. Anonymous7/16/2014

    I hadn't thought about the debate this way before - that it falls under the residual cultural assumptions that men earn things while women are given what they have. Did anybody ever raise the question of whether Hobby Lobby was *giving* viagra to their male employees?

    1. Shawna7/17/2014

      I never heard the viagra comparison, but I was really struck by the way conservative pundits were framing the Hobby Lobby debate as women receiving birth control for free. Insisting that we talk about health care coverage as a portion of their compensation package is really helpful in this debate.

  2. To be fair, this conversation was taking place on Fox news and the like.