Ever since Kathleen Sebelius announced that the government was adding Birth Control to the list of "Free Preventative" benefits, there have been a variety of religious groups suiting the Federal Gov't over this mandate of the Affordable Care Act law (ACA). The announcement came in the fall of 2011 and it was announced that this coverage was to begin in the fall of 2012 for any non-grandfathered plans as well as any new plans.
When the law was first passed, it stated that Preventative benefits were to be covered without any out of pocket cost to the insured individuals - no deductible, coinsurance, or even a copay. In other words: FREE! But we all know the old saying "There is no such thing as a FREE lunch." Many were worried premiums would skyrocket because of this; actually, I think Actuaries tied only a few percentage points to the over all cost. And keep in mind, Insurance companies now have to pay out 80% of the dollars they collect or refund the money (in the individual and small group marketplace; the number is 85% for large groups with 100 plus employees.) This portion of the law kicked in to all nongrandfathered and new plans starting 6 months after the law was passed - October 23, 2010. Grandfathered plans (and many self-funded plans as well) are exempt from this part of the law. The government issued guidelines that included a 4 page list of benefits that are covered for FREE under this provision, including preventative benefits for adults, women and children. (CONTACT OUR OFFICE FOR A COPY OF THIS LIST!)
Less than a year after this was in place, Kathleen Sebelius (the head of HHS at that time - she has since stepped down), decided she would add more FREE benefits to the list and expand the list of preventative services for women to include testing for domestic violence, testing for sexually transmitted disease, and birth control, to name a few. The WSJ quoted Sebelius as saying about the new rule, "Not doing it would be like not covering flu shots or any of the other basic preventive services." Many religious groups were up in arms citing the 'type' of person that would cover and several organizations suited the Fed gov't. (TRIVIA QUESTION: How many times has the Obama Administration been suited over this law? ANSWER: I can't count that high!)
So in the latest legal battle, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a corporation's right's (Hobby Lobby), in which the religious beliefs of the owners and "corporation" go against providing free birth control. The Supreme Court justices were careful to identify that this would apply to "Closely held businesses" that were run on religious principles. However, some fear that this opens up a huge can of worms for other corporations to argue a similar case. What do you think? Read more...