Contraception Coverage

Curated by Kayla R. Bryant, J.D.
Writer and Analyst

Contraception coverage (also referred to as the contraception mandate or contraception coverage mandate) is part of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) coverage of preventive health services. Under the ACA, health insurance plans are required to cover all FDA-approved contraception methods for women without any cost-sharing, such as deductibles or co-payments. Those methods include birth control pills, intrauterine devices and sterilization procedures. Employers who do not comply with the contraception mandate will be fined by the IRS.

The US Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby that employers who are closely held and have a substantial religious belief are also excluded from the contraception mandate. Following this decision, the IRS on July 14, 2015, released a Final rule creating three basic classes of employers with differing requirements: those who are exempt from the contraception mandate, those who may use an accommodation, and those who must comply with the mandate.

On November 6, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenges of seven consolidated cases brought by religious non-profits against the contraceptive mandate. The challenges sought a decision from the Supreme Court overturning the ACA requirement that non-profit groups take any action to opt out of the mandate, allowing them to benefit from the blanket exclusion granted to churches and other religious institutions. Instead of issuing a decision on the merits of religious infringement and the restrictiveness of the accommodation, the Court remanded the Zubik cases in order to provide the parties the opportunity to arrive at a satisfactory solution.

In the spirit of cooperation, HHS, the IRS, and the Department of Labor requested input on a possible solution that would satisfy the organizations objecting to contraceptive coverage and the current accommodation, while maintaining the government's position that the current procedure is consistent with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.