New Contraception Laws for Religious Employers
Recent changes in healthcare law have sparked controversy and debate over the issue of contraception coverage for women. The issue has been particularly contentious for religious employers who object to providing contraception coverage on religious grounds. In this article, we will explore the new contraception laws for religious employers and the implications of these laws.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in 2010, required employers to provide their employees with health insurance that included coverage for contraceptives. However, this requirement faced legal challenges from religious employers who argued that providing contraception coverage violated their religious beliefs. The US Supreme Court ultimately sided with the religious employers in two cases, ruling that they could be exempted from the contraceptive coverage requirement.
New Contraception Laws
In 2017, the Trump administration issued an executive order directing federal agencies to take action to protect the religious freedom of employers. The order directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue new rules giving employers more flexibility to deny contraceptive coverage on religious or moral grounds.
In response, the HHS issued new rules in 2018 that allowed employers with religious or moral objections to contraception to be exempted from the requirement to provide such coverage to their employees. Under the new rules, employers could choose to offer coverage only for a limited number of contraceptive methods or could choose not to offer coverage at all.
The new contraception laws have significant implications for women’s access to birth control. According to the National Women’s Law Center, the new rules could affect millions of women who rely on employer-sponsored health plans for their contraceptive coverage. The rules could also undermine the effectiveness of the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement by allowing employers to pick and choose which methods of contraception to cover.
The new rules have also sparked criticism from advocates for women’s rights and religious liberty. Critics argue that the rules prioritize the religious beliefs of employers over the healthcare needs of employees and could lead to discrimination against women who seek contraceptive coverage.
The new contraception laws for religious employers represent a controversial shift in healthcare policy. The rules give religious employers more leeway to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees and could have significant implications for women’s access to birth control. The debate over the issue shows no signs of abating, with ongoing lawsuits and political battles highlighting conflicting views on the role of religion in healthcare policy.
One of the most controversial provisions of the new Affordable Care Act legislation (commonly known as Obamacare) is its requirement for insurance companies and employers to provide contraceptive coverage as part of health insurance plans. According to the rules set forth in the Affordable Care Act, preventative women’s health services, including both hormonal and non-hormonal birth control, must be provided to women free from charges including co-pays.
However, one set of employers has rebelled against the new laws. Employers who have religious objections—both for profit and not for profit employers—have sued in federal court to prevent enforcement of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act requiring contraceptive coverage.
As of January 2013, the White House announced a new way to solve the controversial issue. Since religious organizations claim that their objection is based in having to actually pay for the contraceptive coverage, the government is now requiring insurers to cover contraceptive coverage separately, and at no cost, for anyone who has an employer paid healthcare plan.
In order for an organization to qualify for being exempt from paying for contraceptive coverage itself, it must meet a three-part test. The current law requires that to be considered primarily religious, the organization must have a main purpose of advancing religion, primarily employ people who believe in the religion, and primarily serve people who believe in the religion. This means that many organizations that are religious—for example, a Catholic hospital—might not be able to seek an exemption from contraception coverage under the new rule.
According to most analyses, insurers find contraception coverage to be cost neutral or even positive. This is because childbirth, pregnancy, and infancy are extremely expensive, and preventing pregnancy until parents are ready for childbearing and parenthood eventually saves a great deal of money for insurers.
Not all employers are happy with the new proposal. Some Catholic employers have already expressed a desire to fight the law, saying that the effect is similar to if they had paid for the contraception coverage themselves.
Student health insurance is also impacted by the new policy. According to new guidelines, religious non profit institutions of higher education may apply for accommodations according to the law in the same way that an employer could. This will ensure that even students at religious universities—like Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, thrust into the spotlight in the 2012 election season—have access to the same contraceptives that women at public schools can access.