Contraceptive Coverage at the Supreme Court Zubik v. Burwell: Does the Law Accommodate or Burden Nonprofits’ Religious Beliefs?

(By – Laurie Sobel and Alina Salganicoff, Kaiser Family Foundation)

Among the most contentious and litigated elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the requirement that most private health insurance plans provide coverage for a broad range of preventive services, including Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved prescription contraceptives and services for women.  Since the implementation of the ACA contraceptive coverage requirement in 2012, over 200 corporations have filed lawsuits claiming that their religious beliefs are violated by the inclusion of that coverage or the “accommodation” offered by the federal government. The legal challenges have fallen into two groups: those filed by for-profit corporations and those filed by nonprofit organizations and both have reached the Supreme Court.

In the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court ruled that “closely held” for-profit corporations may be exempted from the requirement. This ruling, however, only settled part of the legal questions raised by the contraceptive coverage requirement, as other legal challenges have been brought by nonprofit corporations. The nonprofits are seeking an “exemption” from the rule, meaning their workers would not have coverage for some or all contraceptives, rather than an “accommodation,” which entitles their workers to full contraceptive coverage but releases the employer from paying for it. Read more…


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