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Who Pays? The Wage-Insurance Trade-Off and Corporate Religious Freedom Claims

Released: 9-Jan-2013 8:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Washington University in St. Louis
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Newswise — Corporations’ religious freedom claims against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate miss a “basic fact of health economics: health insurance, like wages, is compensation that belongs to the employee,” says Elizabeth Sepper, JD, health law expert and associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. Sepper’s scholarship explores the interaction of morality, professional ethics, and law in medicine.

“Study after study shows that employers pay in wages whatever they don’t pay in health insurance premiums. Most recently, a study of Massachusetts’ health reform found that firms offering health insurance pay wages lower by an average of $6,058 (nearly exactly the cost of annual health insurance premiums). Each employee’s actual “salary” is wages plus the employer share of the health insurance premium. So, when a corporation purchases a health insurance plan that its employees (and their family members) may or may not use to buy contraception, it is no more paying for contraception than it does when employees use their wages to buy it.”

Sepper continues the discussion on the Harvard Law Bill of Health blog:

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