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Supreme Court Outlines Affordable Care Act Exemptions for Religious Beliefs of Closely Held Businesses

Published:  June 30, 2014

Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, et al. that certain for-profit closely-held businesses are not required to provide health insurance coverage for methods of contraception that violate the companies’ owners religious beliefs. This case came before the Supreme Court as a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) preventative care requirement mandating coverage of contraceptives in health insurance plans offered to employees. In this case, the companies’ owners were opposed to emergency contraceptives on religious grounds and argued that the ACA’s requirement violated their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Court agreed and found that the government may not force such closely held businesses to pay for such coverage. The Court specified that the businesses that may take advantage of the protection of RFRA in this instance are those for-profit businesses that are owned only by a family, other closely allied individuals, or by a family trust who for religious reasons, object to paying employee coverage for contraceptives.

If owners of these closely held businesses object to paying for coverage of contraceptives for religious reasons, the insurer must bear the cost of contraceptive services instead, and provide the coverage to employees.

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