No one is paying for my birth control but me.

Imagine this conversation with your employer:

YOU. Hey, it looks like my paycheck is $25 short.

EMPLOYER. Oh, no, that’s for Kitten Day.

YOU. I’m sorry?

EMPLOYER. Once a month, we bring in kittens for everyone in the office to cuddle for a day. Studies show that it reduces stress. It’s adorable.

YOU. I’m sure it is, but you’re paying for it out of my paycheck.

EMPLOYER. Yes. Kitten Day is part of your overall compensation package.

A “total compensation package” is the full value of all remuneration given to an employee in exchange for their work for their company. This includes their regular paycheck, but it can also include bonuses, stock and/or stock options, retirement contributions, and, for many workers in the U.S., health insurance. A good package can, for instance, offset a lower base salary, because the employee’s work will still be compensated, even if it doesn’t show up in their paycheck.

In short: The money spent on health insurance is the employee’s own. It was earned by their hard work, and it only passes through their employer’s hands on the way to the health insurance company. It’s not a favor or a gift provided by a benevolent employer — it is compensation for work performed.

Now imagine this conversation:

EMPLOYER. Yes. Kitten Day is part of your overall compensation package.

YOU. Yeah, but I could really use that money for things that actually benefit me. Like mental health care, for instance.

EMPLOYER. Studies show —

YOU. Real mental health care.

EMPLOYER. Well, the owner of the company belongs to a religion that believes that psychological and psychiatric care are of the devil, so all we’re willing to offer is Kitten Day.

YOU. But the Affordable Care Act requires —

EMPLOYER. It’s a religious belief, and that changes everything.

YOU. But you’re spending my money on —

EMPLOYER. Just take a kitten and calm your tits.

If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. For your employer to compensate you for your work with a monthly kitten is as ridiculous as compensating you with a health insurance plan that doesn’t cover your health needs. (And that’s even before you get to the point that a religious exemption on the basis that kittens are God’s Xanax is as ridiculous as an exemption on the basis that hormonal contraceptives kill babies.)

So no, I don’t expect my employer to pay for my birth control. No, this isn’t about my boss subsidizing my sex life. And no, it’s not reasonable for me to hold an aspirin between my knees and call it a contraceptive. It isn’t about an employer paying for birth control any more than it would be about an employer paying for someone’s insulin. This is about an employer imposing their religious beliefs on their employees, taking those employees’ earnings and blowing them on inadequate health care in direct opposition to federal law. And if this were any health care issue other than birth control, people would be marching with bullhorns, not calling women greedy sluts for wanting the quality health care they’re owed.

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13 comments for “No one is paying for my birth control but me.

  1. PrettyAmiable
    August 8, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Like. Like all of this. Thank you for writing it.

  2. notachar
    August 8, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    You should probably use a less I-want-this-to-be-a-real-thing example to make it seem as terrible as it really is.

    But seriously, but this post is perfect, I just really want to hug kittens now.

    • August 9, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Same here. My first thought was “Cuddling kittens at work? SQUEE!” and second was ” … But that’s really going to stress the kittens and put them at risk.”

      Kittens, trumping all other concerns since forever.

    • August 10, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Exactly. My first reaction was, “I know I’m missing the point, but Kitten Day would be AWESOME.”

  3. Summerslide
    August 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    An employer is entitled to their beliefs. If you as an employee do not subscribe to those same beliefs.. do not ask them to change it. Just like if the pay was not to your liking, you don’t have to work there and can seek employment elsewhere.

    • Lisa
      August 11, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      That is such a fallacious argument. For one thing, it is not as simple as it sounds to “just get another job.” If you were in touch with today’s economic climate, you’d understand that. Especially considering that statistically speaking women are drastically underemployed and underpaid.

      Further, once one industry decides to use one of these restrictions, that makes it that much easier for those restrictions to become the rule and not just the exception.

      And last, but not least, an employer is certainly entitled to his or her religious beliefs while within the confines of their private persona, but when a person is acting as a public citizen, those beliefs have to take a back seat.

  4. August 8, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Commenting note: Summerslide, I’ll be happy to approve your comment if you’ll resubmit it with a legitimate e-mail address.

  5. Jerry
    August 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    But would my allergy to cats exempt me from Kitten Day? Or would it get me fired because my employer believes that only followers of Satan start sneezing uncontrollably when holding a divinely ordained kitty?

  6. D. Marie
    August 12, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Let me start off by saying I agree, that supreme court decision was ridiculous.

    But also I have a question.

    Given that health care coverage is considered part of the overall compensation package… It seems fair to allow a company to refuse to cover health care options if employees are also allowed to opt out of that health care coverage and receive the employer covered portion of the health care cost as additional salary which they would then be able to use to purchase an individual plan to meet their needs. Is this a thing that can happen? And if not why not?

    Although I suppose this could lead to some deflation in the overall compensation package as some employers offered such terrible packages that everyone opted out, received an excessively small increase in their pay packet and then had to find more expensive health care. On the other hand it would prevent companies from claiming whatever benefit they get for offering these subpar health packages…

    Thoughts? This is a legitimate question.

    • Tori
      August 19, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      The problem is that a lot of people are falling in a gap. If you make a certain amount of money, going to another plan not provided at work is incredibly expensive. Most people working full time on minimum wage are going to fall into this group. You have to making very little money to qualify for Medicaid and to actually be able to afford a plan not provided by work.

  7. cathD
    August 29, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Three words, National Health Service.Just sayin’……

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