Q&A with Vic Albert
High Court’s contraceptive ruling affects only certain companies
Q: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that for-profit, closely held businesses could assert religious objections to the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s contraceptive mandate to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives for most women without cost-sharing. What does the ruling mean for area employers?
A: The ruling applies only to for-profit, closely held companies whose owners’ religious or spiritual beliefs oppose the use of some or all contraceptives.
Q: What is a closely held company?
A: Closely held corporations often are owned and controlled by members of a single family. The IRS also defines a closely held company as a corporation that has more than 50 percent of the value of its outstanding stock directly or indirectly owned by five or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of the tax year. A closely held corporation can’t be a personal-service corporation. It’s estimated that closely held corporations comprise more than 90 percent of U.S. organizations, and are responsible for about 52 percent of all private employment.
Q: Which employers still must comply with the ACA regarding contraceptives?
A: Companies with 50 or more employees who don’t meet the three criteria above won’t be able to meet the context of Monday’s decision. This includes publicly held corporations and those closely held corporations whose owners can’t legitimately claim a company religious philosophy.
Q: What recourse do employees at exempt companies have for securing contraceptives?
A: Most employers provide and will continue to provide various forms of contraceptives coverage under their health care plans, even if there are certain forms — such as morning-after pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs) — that the employer may decide not to cover based on the owner’s religious beliefs. Employees also can buy contraceptives outside of the coverage in their health care plans. Beyond that, there is already talk about Congress enacting laws to push the responsibility to cover contraceptives to the third-party health insurers and off of the company as a means to compromise on this decision.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER