In another long awaited U.S. Supreme Court decision related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), yesterday the high court, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, struck down a requirement in the ACA that employers, through their sponsored health insurance, provide female employees free access to certain types of birth control. In a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the justices ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act shielded for-profit, closely-held companies from having to provide the contraception coverage to employees.
One of the regulations implemented under the ACA requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide female employees with health insurance, including the no-cost option to twenty different types of contraceptives.
The plaintiffs in these companion cases, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, were both closely-held companies. The owners of each business held deep religious convictions that the use of some contraceptives is akin to abortion, which they opposed. Each filed a lawsuit challenging the ACA requirement that their employer-sponsored health insurance include coverage of these types of contraceptives.
Yet again, this decision underscores the difficulties that small businesses face in adopting policies and benefits packages in light of the ACA.