Supreme Court Rules Closely Held Businesses Can Avoid Contraception Mandate

Jun 30, 2014

By Sean K. Griffee | Related Practices: Business and Employment

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that closely held and family-owned businesses can object on religious grounds to the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that they provide health insurance coverage for birth control.

In a 5-4 ruling, the Court said that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, these businesses can seek an exemption for the birth control mandate, which requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide female employees with contraceptive coverage at no cost.

However, the ruling only applies to contraceptives, not other medical practices such as blood transfusions or vaccinations.

Employees can still obtain birth control coverage via an accommodation to the mandate that is already being used for religious-affiliated nonprofit organizations. Under the accommodation, organizations must provide “self-certification” that authorizes insurance companies to provide coverage without the employer’s direct involvement.

When the self-certification form is submitted to the health insurance company or third-party administrator, it triggers an obligation on the part of the insurer or administrator to provide or arrange for separate payment for coverage of the products and procedures the employer does not wish to cover.

Contact counsel if you have questions about how this decision will impact your company’s health insurance policies.