by Bob Smietana
With all of the opinions and reactions swirling, there are a few things to keep in mind now that the Supreme Court has ruled on the Hobby Lobby case.
Hobby Lobby’s 13,000 employees still have health insurance.
That might not be the case today if Hobby Lobby had lost. The Green family had said they would refuse to comply with the contraceptive mandate regardless of the outcome.
Had the Supreme Court ruled against them, they would have had two options—either pay fines of about $475 million a year (according to court documents) or drop their health care plan all together and pay a smaller fine, as Justice Elena Kagan pointed out.
“Hobby Lobby could choose not to provide health insurance at all,” she said during oral arguments. “In that case, Hobby Lobby would pay $2,000 per employee, which is less that Hobby probably pays to provide insurance to its employees.”
Dropping their coverage would have caused chaos for Hobby Lobby employees. That train wreck has now been avoided.
Women who work for Hobby Lobby will still have access to contraceptives.
Currently, Hobby Lobby’s insurance plan covers 16 of the 20 forms of contraception required by the Affordable Care Act. The Green family objected to providing the other four methods because those contraceptives can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting instead of merely blocking fertilization.
However, those methods will now be covered by either Hobby Lobby’s insurance company on its own or by the government.
The fight over the contraceptive mandate might soon be over.
For the past two years, the Obama administration has sparred with religious non-profits and for-profit companies that object to the contraceptive mandate. About 100 of those groups have sued over the mandate. The court, in a footnote, gave the Obama administration a hint of how to resolve this dispute.
The majority opinion pointed to a temporary ruling earlier this year, in a case involving a Colorado-based order of nuns called the Little Sisters of the Poor. The nuns refused to fill out a government form that directed their insurance company to set up contraception coverage. The government insisted the nuns must fill out the form or face fines.
The court proposed or developed a compromise. The nuns could simply tell the government they object to the mandate and the government can arrange to set up the contraceptive coverage from there.
A similar approach with all religious objectors could put this dispute to rest.
by Bob Smietana