Health Insurance Coverage a Courtesy? No, It’s Your—and My—Wages

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Commentary Contraception

Health Insurance Coverage a Courtesy? No, It’s Your—and My—Wages

Vyckie Garrison

 If you think for a hot second that a health insurance package is a mere courtesy bestowed on you by a kindly employer, I pity you for sipping the antifreeze so willingly.  Health insurance coverage is part of earned wages.

This article is written by No Longer Quivering guest writer, “Sierra,” a PhD student living in the Midwest. She was raised in a “Message of the Hour” congregation that followed the ministry of William Branham. She left the Message in 2006 and is the author of the blog The Phoenix and Olive Branch.

I am fed up. Truly, deeply fed up. I’m fed up with the arrogance and hypocrisy of the fools who think there’s honestly any reason to oppose women’s free access to birth control other than to eliminate our ability to determine our own destinies. And so I’m about to say something uncharacteristically angry. I don’t apologize for it and I offer no overtures of respect for the Right Wing zealots who think they hold the moral high ground on this issue.

Shame on you, America, for your failure to recognize your female population as a group of citizens with the right to self-determination. Shame on you for tolerating blowhards and pompous dictators with crosses on their chests.

I received an ignorant comment just now, and I haven’t posted it because there’s enough vile refuse floating in the public sphere as it is. But suffice to say that it boiled down to this:

Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.

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“Don’t tell the government to stay out of your reproductive choices and then demand that everyone else pay for you to have sex.”

My commenter is far from alone in this sentiment. In fact, she echoes Rush Limbaugh and all the other drooling windbags who think “taxpayers” are somehow being bled dry for the pleasures of others, of women, as though there is something about “women” that sets them apart from the former category. I have news for you, self-righteous cowards.

Women ARE taxpayers. Women ARE workers. Women EARN their health care every day of the year. If you think for a hot second that a health insurance package is a mere courtesy bestowed on you by a kindly employer, I pity you for sipping the antifreeze so willingly. Do you realize who is really benefiting from that freedom of conscience you so raucously defend? It isn’t you, that’s for sure. You have just given away your rights to decent employment, by framing health insurance as a sort of largess sprinkling down from the corporate king. How easily you sell away your own labors, your own bodies, pretending you haven’t given up your choices because you pay “out of pocket.” Thinking you’re the harder worker because you’ve agreed to accept less than what you’re due. No, I’m afraid that doesn’t make you heroic. It makes you dreadfully, painfully gullible.

Health insurance is part of earned incomeWhen a woman takes a job, she is offered a health insurance package in addition to her paycheck as compensation for her work. Do I hear you saying that’s “entitled”? How droll. A workman is worthy of his hire, isn’t he (1 Timothy 5:18, for those who like references)? Why isn’t a working woman worthy of receiving the fruits of her labor?

When I fill my prescription, I assure you that you aren’t the one paying for it. I am. When I go to the classroom and teach, when I grade papers, when I sit in office hours and coach your children on how to write, I am earning my own birth control. So are you. Whether you pay your own premiums or not, you are exchanging hours of your life for insurance. And if you don’t have insurance – how is that something to be proud of? It means you work for an employer who can’t be bothered to invest in its employees. It means you work for a corporation that finds you disposable, that tells you that you’d be a fool to expect your health to matter. Is that “freedom”? Really? Just because the all-seeing entity that wants to decide your fate doesn’t bear the stamp of the United States government? How utterly naive.

Health insurance is not a courtesy. It’s wages. Furthermore, you might ask if I support universal health care. Yes, indeed, I do. But halt your crying about the horrible burden of the “taxpayers,” struggling against the weight of my supposed promiscuity (along with most of the women, married or not, in America). Because guess what. I am a taxpayer. You think your taxes are the ones supporting me, supporting the “lifestyle” you so hypocritically disdain. What, then, are my taxes supporting – yours? Shall I stop paying? If it’s you taking care of me one way or another, O mighty “taxpayers”, then perhaps I’ll withdraw my own support from the system since my dollars don’t seem to be doing much good. Good luck to you when you need ventilators, pain relief and open-heart surgery. I’ll be in jail, assuring that you can finally gripe about your taxes supporting me with some feeble shred of honesty.

The truth is, I’m willing to shoulder the burden for the young, the elderly and the disabled because I am a taxpayer who believes in the power of this nation to collectively care for itself. But apparently you aren’t, or at least you demand a paternalistic veto power over the medical decisions of those you claim to support. Again, I have news for you: whether I am receiving universal health care from the government or earning it as part of my own income package, I assure you that you needn’t trouble your heads about my moral choices. Because I don’t rely on your taxes any more than you rely on mine. I am a taxpayer, I am a woman, and I use birth control.

If you consent to let employers of any stripe deny you the insurance that you have worked for, then your blood is on your own hands. I am not so blind as to regard that “freedom” and “personal responsibility” you tout as anything more than corporate robbery. By your own standards, health care is my right. I have earned it. I have paid for it. Although I despise your selfish philosophy and condemn your willingness to see others to their deaths rather than part with a grimy dollar, I assure you that I will not accept your sneers or apologize for the things I do with what I earn. I use birth control. I pay taxes. I earn my health care and I believe in paying it forward to those who can’t yet. And, you arrogant fools, I owe you nothing.