By Jessica R.

The Affordable Care Act makes effective birth control more affordable for millions of women by requiring employer-based health plans to include no-cost coverage for contraceptives.  On March 25, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from companies that want to violate this law. Here is a story from one of the many women whose boss has tried to deny her birth control.  For fear of losing her job, she requested to remain anonymous. Jessica is not her real name.

For the past three years, I have worked at the same Catholic university that I attended as a student.  I love my job, and I can’t afford to lose it.  But I’m afraid that I will be fired if I press my employer about whether contraception should be covered in our health plan.  No one should be forced to choose between her job and her dignity, but that’s what I feel I’m being forced to do right now. 

When I was first hired, the Human Resources secretary quickly told me that neither of the school’s two health insurance options covered birth control.  But when I looked through the plan brochures, I noticed that contraception was not actually listed as something that was excluded. When I called the insurance companies myself, I found that they did both cover birth control—HR just didn’t want me to know it.

For over a year, I had no problem getting my birth control pills covered.  I went off of birth control to have a child—a beautiful baby girl.  After she was born, I went back on the pill because my husband and I weren’t yet ready for another child. 

You can imagine my surprise when my pharmacy told me out of the blue one day that my insurance company had denied coverage for my monthly prescription.  Assuming it was just some sort of administrative error, I called my insurer.  But there was no mistake—my employer had demanded that the insurance company refuse to cover birth control for employees unless they had a “prior authorization” from their OB-GYN.  My doctor agreed to write a letter explaining that I needed birth control for contraceptive purposes.  But according to the insurance company, family planning isn’t “medically necessary,” and the insurance company denied coverage again.  I had to go back to my OB-GYN and ask her to tell the insurance company the second reason why I need birth control pills: to regulate my periods.  My doctor did, and the authorization was ultimately accepted.

After the insurance company first denied me birth control, but before I learned that it was my employer who’d demanded they change their policies, I made an appointment with the university’s Human Resources director.  I assumed it was a problem with the insurance company, and thought our HR Director would want to know.  Boy, was I wrong.  The HR director told me that birth control is something the university should never be expected to cover, and that I should be more responsible for my reproduction and “proud” of my child.  Using birth control is the responsible decision for me and my family, and I was outraged that he would suggest that my family planning decisions somehow called into question my love for my daughter. 

Ever since that conversation, the HR director gives me dirty looks whenever I pass him in the hallway.  I discussed the situation with my boss, who was sympathetic, but advised me not to bring it up to anyone else in the University’s administration . . . because they might fire me. 

I love my job and can’t afford to lose it, which is why I bite my tongue when I see the HR director, and why I’m not using my real name in this blog.  But I should not have to choose between keeping my job and losing my dignity.

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Anonymous

You went to work for the Catholic Church. What were you expecting? Now you can't find a job because you voted for Obama. You put yourself in a bad situation and now you have to suffer through it. Tough.

Anonymous

Stuff like this happens to me all the time, over almost anything. Not just birth control, which I never could have gotten away with saying I needed it to regulate periods b/c I'm more regular than a gd clock. Every 28 days on the nose.

But I have PTSD, caused from a bank robbery and shooting that nearly killed me, and no employer can tolerate even one f'ing screw-up or bad day, which translates IMO as they can't accept that I'm going to be human. So I have no job again and there's nothing I can do about it currently, except go through all the silly little motions of going to meetings and deciding whether I CAN work and just putting my life on hold until I'm 65 and never HAVE had a chance to work again b/c of all their stupid "hurry up and wait" games they never stop playing.

I talked to a friend who's a Vietnam Veteran, who thinks most employers are idiots about these things, and he's an employer himself. I used to work for one of his Centers, in fact, and I never had this issue with him.
He thinks people play games with themSELVES or refuse to admit they already have "support systems in their life when they say things like they're the only ones getting themselves better." He thinks they're taking for granted every person who acts as a cheering section for them, which usually include your parents.
He also thinks most employers "don't know a damn thing of what watching another person be shot and being shot yourself does to a person, and that would be worse in a person who had no prior training in how to act during a situation that tends to cause post-trauma like a war does."
He said he noticed right away that I had symptoms of PTSD, and he used revolutionary methods to address it if it ever arose.
He said he's "constantly revolutionary. That's one thing going to Vietnam for 2 years impressed on me. That the conservative way DOESN'T always work. That the conservative way can even be totally ridiculous to follow in a situation where everyone's wrong."
He said there used to be a song in that era with words saying "How can it be right when every side's wrong" or something like it.
So people think he's Mr. Liberal. He thinks he's "more of a rebel than a liberal and why not when two years of Vietnam was the conservatives' idea for what I should do with my time?"
"With ideas like that they should have no problem understanding why I initially reject their ideas."

Anonymous

Personally I don't think that health insurance should cover birth control in the first place. Contraception is hardly a problem of poor health/being ill, and the desire for sex is not a risk that needs to be insured against.

The article's writer made it clear that the reason she had to give to keep getting free contraceptives (to regulate her period) was actually a lie. The doctor that wrote that note for her should be ashamed of him/herself. The unspoken truth here is she just didn't want to pay out of her own pocket for contraceptives. Therefore she was in fact making a fraudulent insureance claim. The cost gets directly passed to others on the plan, who end up paying just so she can have recreational sex without having any associated costs. Not exactly fair is it?

That said, if your health insurance already does cover something, then your employer is a complete dick for not letting you access it.

Anonymous

Dear Anon One,
What effed up, bizarre world do you live in?

Anonymous

It's crazy that employers have any say what so ever. Absolutely insane.

Janipurr

Hey, Mr Anonymous #2--religious freedom does not extend to forcing your religion on other people. If you feel that ANY church has the right to dictate how someone should live, why don't you move to the Middle East and see how it feels?
Also--Obama has added more jobs than both Bushes combined. The economy is in far better shape today than it was when W left office.

This woman PAYS for her own insurance coverage. So how is it right that her employer should be able to tell a married woman whether or not she can use birth control? I think this employer should have to pay a daily fine until they change their policy.

Anonymous

Sorry to say, but you work for the Catholic Church. In the view of the Church, sex is more or less only for reproduction. Everyone who has grown up in the church knows that contraception is against the religion. While I don't agree with them, they'd be going against their own doctrine of they allowed contraceptives to be covered for purposes that aren't medically necessary. That being said, while you should really have expected that they wouldn't willingly cover your prescription, they also shouldn't be shaming or passing judgment on you because of it. That is completely against the teachings of Christianity, and far too many "Christians" are guilty of it.

Anonymous

Employers like these need to be called out! That is exactly what WickedBosses.com is built on. Shedding light on bosses who don't show their employees the respect they deserve.

Anonymous

That's bullshit if I ever heard it. Can't find a job bc of Obama? He only presented a Jobs Bill for the House and all of them except Steve Chabot voted AGAINST it. Voted NO to creating more jobs. That would be all the Republicans whose noses are so far up the Koch brothers' butts a Proctologist couldn't remove them.
The same reason they have a hair up their butt about Affordable CARE is that the Koch brothers' prissy asses don't like it for reasons we'll never know (they made sure the web site that I asked the question on deleted my comment a few hours after I asked it.)
I voted for Steve Chabot and I'm a Republican for Obama, b/c this shit of listening to the Koch brothers every word and treating them like freakin' emperors is a pile of rat turds. I'm not voting for ANYone who wants those Fascist wanna-bes to take over the entire government and I'm not sitting here listening to people who think those guys will care about them if they just hate President Obama enough to get into the Koch brother country club, or something.
They don't give a tin DAMN about you people. They want to take away everything you've ever had and watch you die right after you're done singing the praises for them.
The KOCH brothers have NEVER been Republican. End of story.

BTW the Koch brothers are the emperors in that story my daughter's dad used to read to her called 'The Emperor's New Clothes.'

Anonymous

Find a new job!! There are plenty of organizations that proudly cover birth control in their plans. Or, don't get insurance through your employer and buy it yourself. No one is forcing you to work at a Catholic organization.

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