Filed Under:Health Insurance, Individual Health

What if a closely held employer cuts birth control benefits?

Regulators at EBSA, the IRS and CCIIO worked together to write the Hobby Lobby guidance.
Regulators at EBSA, the IRS and CCIIO worked together to write the Hobby Lobby guidance.

Federal agencies have outlined the procedures closely held corporations have to follow if they want to eliminate contraceptive services from their group health preventive services package.

A closely held for-profit corporation that wants to eliminate birth control benefits must change the summary plan description (SPD) for a plan. The employer then must follow the usual requirements for telling plan enrollees about material reductions in covered services, officials say. Employers generally must tell plan members about reductions in covered services within 60 days after making the change, according to officials.

Officials at the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) all worked together to describe the procedures for eliminating birth control benefits in a short answer to frequently asked questions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The agencies came up with the answer in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby vs. Sebelius.

The court ruled that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the parent of CCIIO, failed to make enough of an effort to consider the religious beliefs of the owners of closely held for-profit corporations when they imposed a birth control benefits mandate on those employers. HHS created the mandate by backing an Institute of Medicine decision to include birth control benefits in a basic preventive services benefits package created by PPACA. PPACA requires non-grandfathered major medical plans to cover the package without imposing deductibles or co-payments on the patients.

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