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Supreme Court Allows Exclusion of Contraceptive Coverage

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision the DOL, IRS, and HHS have jointly issued FAQs Part XX—a single FAQ addressing preventive health services. The FAQ addresses what notice requirements apply when a closely held, for-profit corporation changes its health plan coverage for some or all contraceptive services mid-plan year.

In the 5-4 Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court ruled that closely-held, for-profit corporations are not required to provide contraceptive coverage as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) if coverage of contraceptives violates the sincerely held religious beliefs of the companies’ owners.

The Court was careful to point out the limited scope of its decision…

  • It applies only to closely-held companies with very few shareholders. It does not apply to larger, publicly-traded, for-profit companies, and it does not change the current contraceptive requirements for other employers.

  • It applies only to the PPACA contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to apply to other insurance coverage mandates that conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs.

  • It also does not allow discrimination based on religious objections.

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