Six months after Hobby Lobby won an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s mandated contraceptive coverage, the mainstream population has largely lost interest. In the meantime, 26 companies have followed suit.
These 26 for-profit companies, less than half of the more than 100 entities that are currently challenging the mandatory coverage of birth control, have also won the right to stop paying for their employees’ birth control. Twenty-five more for-profits are on well on their way to doing the same thing.
The Hobby Lobby decision was a game changer—not because it allowed one company to get out of a specific mandate, but because it provided the blueprint for others to do the same.
The entire debate dates back to August 1, 2011, when a provision was added to the Affordable Care Act requiring companies to cover preventive health services for women (as outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services) at no upfront cost. Under a podium that read: “Simply Being a Woman Is No Longer a Pre-existing Condition,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius celebrated the decision with a victorious crowd on the day it took effect, exactly one year later.
For companies like Hobby Lobby, with a strong religious foundation in opposition to contraceptive methods, this was the beginning of a big fight—one that most, it seems, will win.
The Oklahoma-city based Hobby Lobby was one of more than 100 companies—both nonprofit and for-profit—to file a lawsuit in federal court challenging the contraceptive mandate, but the craft store’s was by far the biggest. In July, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, deciding that a closely held company (i.e. corporations in which six or fewer individuals own more than 50 percent of the stock), could opt out of the mandate for religious reasons.
At the time of the July ruling, 82 lawsuits brought by similar entities had been stayed by courts pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on Hobby Lobby. Gretchen Borchelt, senior counsel and director of state reproductive health policy for the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), explained it to The Daily Beast in June. “Other closely held companies now have a license to harm their employees in the name of the company’s religion,” said Borchelt. “If companies qualify, they can use this decision to make the same claim.”
Six months after we spoke, more than two-dozen have successfully qualified, and won the same exemption. This leaves thousands of women at companies across the United States left to pay out of pocket for their birth control. In a Supreme Court brief from NWLC, the average cost of oral contraception for one woman over the course of five years is listed as $2,630. Injectable contraceptives or vaginal rings cost even more, at upwards of $2,700.
Leila Abolfazli, senior counsel for NWLC who is currently covering this issue, says the decisions are having a “real impact” on women nationwide. “Paying out of pocket for some women may be impossible because they don't have the income—or for some, it may be that they can’t afford the right one,” Abolfazli tells The Daily Beast. “It’s a full range of problems.”
On the “Cover Her” helpline, dedicated to assisting women with healthcare coverage, Abolfazli says there has been an influx of calls on this issue. “There’s just this feeling that comes through that it’s really unfair,” she says. “Depending on your employer, you have different rights.”
Even for those who can make ends meet enough to purchase the birth control, the pressure of having to pay out of pocket still has implications. A Guttmacher study) from 2009 found that high costs of contraception lead women to “forego [it] completely, to choose less effective methods, or to use [it] inconsistently or incorrectly.”
While the Hobby Lobby decision may have lost its cultural appeal, it still carries weight in the federal court system. The 26 companies who have followed in the craft store’s footsteps are now under no obligation to pay for their female employee’s birth control. (Oh, but vasectomy candidates and Viagra users, not to worry. They’ve got you covered).
From a car dealership in Missouri to a food packaging company in Kentucky, meet the Obamacare contraception mandates newest enemies:
1. American Pulverizer
Springfield Iron and Metal, LLC, American Pulverizer Company, Hustler Conveyor Company, and City Welding are four Missouri-based companies involved in the business of wholesale scrap metal recycling and manufacturing of related machines.
2. Barron Industries
Michigan-based company that produces metal castings for various industries.
3. Bick Holdings Inc.
A Missouri-based holding company for operating companies.
4. Cherry Creek Mortgage Co.
A Colorado-based full- service residential mortgage banking company.
5. Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation
A Pennsylvania-based wood cabinet and specialty products manufacturer.
6. Doboszenski & Sons
Minnesota-based company that provides services for excavation, demolition, and street construction and reconstruction.
7. Domino’s Farms Corp.
Michigan-based property management company.
8. Freshway Foods
A fresh produce processor and packer, Freshway Logistics is a for-hire carrier of mainly refrigerated products. The companies are Ohio-based for-profits that serve 23 states.
9. Hart Electric LLC
An Illinois- based manufacturer of electrical components, and H.I. Cable.
10. Johnson Welded Products
Ohio-based manufacturer of reservoirs for air brake systems.
11. Korte & Luitjohan Contractors
An Illinois-based full-service construction contractor.
12. Lindsay, Rappaport and Postel LLC
An Illinois-based law firm that primarily practices in insurance defense, insurance coverage, and appellate work.
13. Midwest Fastener Corp.
A Michigan-based company that supplies fasteners to the hardware store, home center, and industrial markets.
14. MK Chambers Company
Michigan-based supplier of specialty machining.
15. M&N Plastics
Michigan-based supplier of custom injection molding products.
16. O’Brien Industrial Holding
Missouri company engaged in the exploration, mining, processing, manufacturing, and distribution of refractory and ceramic raw materials.
17. The QC Group Inc
A Minnesota-based corporation, owned by Daniel Medford and David DeVowe, which provides quality control services.
18. Randy Reed Buick, Nissan, and Chevrolet
Missouri-based car dealerships.
19. Sioux Chief MFG. Co.,
Missouri Corporation that manufactures plumbing products.
20. SMA LLC.
A Minnesota based agricultural/industrial construction company.
21. Stinson Electric, Inc.
A Minnesota electrical services company.
22. Tonn and Blank Construction
An Indiana construction company.
An Ohio- based corporation that works in the electrical and thermal insulation industry.
24. Zumbiel Packaging
A Kentucky-based manufacturer of paperboard packaging for consumer goods.
25. Encompass Develop, Design & Construct, LLC
A Kentucky-based architect, design and construction service.
A Minnesota car dealership.