Photographed By Jessica Nash.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby gives bosses of family-run businesses the right to interfere with their employees' access to legally mandated birth control coverage. Women across the country have been reaching out to Planned Parenthood to determine what the practical implications will be. They want to know: How will this ruling affect them personally? What should they do if their boss decides their medical decisions are his or her business — and drops their contraceptive coverage?
The Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous because it discriminates against women. After all, 99% of sexually active American women will use birth control at some point — not only to prevent pregnancies and plan their families and lives, but also for medical reasons such as treatment of endometriosis and menstrual pain. It was precisely for these reasons that the Affordable Care Act included the birth-control benefit in the first place. Already 30 million women nationally are eligible for no-copay birth control, and when the law is fully implemented, 47 million women nationally will have access to birth control without paying out-of-pocket.
To help those who are concerned and confused by the Supreme Court decision, we launched a text helpline to provide information and assistance quickly. If you have questions about your coverage, or you’re afraid to ask your boss about birth control coverage in your workplace, text “birthcontrol” to 69866. We’ll reach out to your employer and ask what the policy is, then follow up with you with what we know. Despite some uncertainties in the wake of the ruling, there are five things we know for sure:
1. Most women continue to be covered. Insurance plans still have to cover birth control without a copay — the Supreme Court didn’t strike down the birth-control benefit entirely. It’s not yet clear how many women will be affected because they are employed at family-run businesses that claim a right not to pay for their coverage. So, if you have any questions about your own coverage, text “birthcontrol” to 69866 and we can help.
2. All methods of birth control are still covered. The birth-control benefit requires insurance companies to cover all FDA-approved birth control methods with no copay. This includes implants, IUDs, the pill, and more. However, while insurance is required to cover all methods, it doesn’t have to cover all brands.
3. If your boss decides to end coverage, they must notify you. If you have any questions, contact your office’s HR department or text “birthcontrol” to 69866.
4. Women who work at religiously affiliated organizations still get coverage. Churches don’t have to provide coverage for birth control for their employees, but if you work for a religiously affiliated nonprofit organization — like a Catholic hospital or Christian university — you are still entitled to birth control with no copay. These employers are able to opt out of arranging for coverage if they have religious objections, but you still have access to birth control. (The Hobby Lobby decision, by contrast, was in connection with family-run, for-profit corporations.)
5. If your employer stops covering birth control, Planned Parenthood can help. Our health centers provide a range of affordable birth control options for women regardless of where they work or what their boss thinks. As the nation's leading advocate for women’s reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood is completely committed to making sure women get the no-copay birth control benefit that we and others fought so hard to pass and protect. No woman should lose access to birth control just because her boss doesn't approve of it. Birth control is not our bosses’ business.
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is a nationally respected leader in the field of women's health and reproductive rights.