The High Cost of Conscience
Religion & Liberty Online

The High Cost of Conscience

The Obama administration’s controversial contraception-abortifacient mandate goes into effect yesterday, creating a difficult choice for pro-life business owners. If employers don’t change their plans, they will be hit with fines of up to $100 per employee per day. But if they stop providing health coverage, employers with more than 50 employees could be hit with an alternative fine of $2,000 per employee per year.

As the Heritage Foundation has noted, for many companies, the level of these fines would mean going out of business. Applying the $100 per employee per day fine to Hercules Industries—a family-owned business with 265 employees that is challenging the mandate in Colorado—would mean a fine of $795,000 per month ($100 per day x 30 days x 265 employees)—over $9.5 million per year. However, if Hercules were to drop its health coverage, forcing its employees into government-run exchanges under Obamacare, it would face a fine of approximately $2,000 per employee per year ($2,000 x 265 employees), for a total of $530,000 per year.

Although many medium-to-large size firms already pay half a million a year in health care for their employees, simply paying the fine isn’t likely to be viewed as a preferable option. Not only does it force the employees to shift to a (likely inferior) government-run plan but the fines would simply be used to pay for the same coverage that the employer objected to in the first place.

Most employers will simply realize that under the Obama administration, conscience has shifted from being an inalienable right to being a luxury they can’t afford.

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).