How does contraception ruling impact insurers?


Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided closely-held corporations don't have to offer contraception coverage, it's unclear how the ruling will affect insurers.

In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services could implement a stopgap measure to ensure women employed by Hobby Lobby and other objecting companies' health insurance plans don't go without desired contraception.

"The most straightforward way of doing this would be for the government to assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives at issue to any women who are unable to obtain them under their health insurance policies due to their employers' religious objections," Alito wrote.

The agency is still considering its options in light of the high court's decision. "It is our view ... that Congress needs to take action to solve this problem that's been created and the administration stands ready to work with them to do so," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Monday, according to NBC News.

Most insurers are still mulling over the decision. Aetna said it is "reviewing the opinion and expects HHS to issue changes in the regulation that will reflect the court ruling," according to a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer from Cynthia Michener, Aetna's public relations manager. "Once we have that regulatory guidance, we will be able to address any questions from specific, for-profit, closely held companies."

Likewise, Premera Blue Cross in Washington is "analyzing today's ruling and [will] await further federal and state guidance in light of that decision," Melanie Coon, senior communications manager, told FierceHealthPayer.

But if HHS decides to require insurers take on contraception coverage, the costs could be substantial. That's because more than 90 percent of private companies are considered closely held, and they employ 52 percent of all workers, the New Republic reported.

And what happens if large, public companies try to use Hobby Lobby's arguments to justify denying contraceptive coverage? In their dissenting opinions, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said other types of companies, including big, publicly-traded corporations, could use the court's decision to defend denying contraceptive coverage, LifeHealthPro reported.

"Although the court attempts to cabin its language to closely held corporations, its logic extends to corporations of any size, public or private," Ginsburg wrote.

To learn more:
- read the NBC News article
- see the New Republic article
- check out the LifeHealthPro article

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