Companies Dropping Birth Control Have to Alert Workers

Closely held companies that decide to drop insurance coverage of birth control for religious reasons have 60 days to tell their employees after they end the benefits, the Obama administration said today.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that the U.S. can’t force non-publicly traded companies to cover contraception under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A 1993 law protecting religious freedom applies to companies whose owners oppose contraception such as intra-uterine devices or the so-called morning after pill, the court said.

New rules posted today by the U.S. departments of Health, Labor and the Treasury are the first regulatory response to the decision from the court. The document orders companies to give employees a summary of any changes to their health benefits.

“For plans that reduce or eliminate coverage of contraceptive services after having provided such coverage, expedited disclosure requirements for material reductions in covered services or benefits apply,” the guidance said.

The Supreme Court case was brought by Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., a chain of about 600 craft stores based in Oklahoma City, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp, based in East Earl, Pa. The owners of both companies believe certain types of birth control cause abortions and they shouldn’t have to cover them.

Senate Republicans blocked Democratic legislation yesterday that would require for-profit companies to cover birth control in their insurance plans, even if their owners object to it.

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