Religious Objections to Contraceptive Coverage

The government agencies responsible for the implementation of health care reform issued proposed rules and interim final regulations expanding the universe of employers who can make a religious objection to providing contraceptive coverage under their health plans.  Health care reform mandates that virtually all health plans must provide preventive services without cost sharing.  Contraception is considered a preventive service that must be covered by a health plan.

Last year, the government offered churches and religious nonprofit employers the ability to opt out of the contraceptive coverage mandate by filing a form with the government.  Over the past year, there have been court cases by other, for-profit entities challenging the obligation to cover contraceptives.

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the religious accommodation exception should be available to closely held, for-profit businesses with religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage.  The government agencies now released rules consistent with the Hobby Lobby ruling.  They also released a form that businesses may use to inform the government of their religious objection.