Plans That Drop Contraceptive Coverage Must Make Expedited Disclosures, DOL Says

Stay informed and ready to meet both everyday challenges and long-term planning and policy-making goals, with focused news, practical information, and strategic insights on all HR-related developments.


July 17 --Group health plans operated by closely held companies that stop offering contraceptive services required under the Affordable Care Act mid-plan year must send out notices disclosing the action, according to regulatory guidance posted on the Labor Department's website July 17.

The guidance was prepared by the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury.

The DOL Frequently Asked Questions posting follows the U.S. Supreme Court's June 30 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 2014 BL 180313, 123 FEP Cases 621 (U.S. 2014), that the contraceptive coverage regulations implementing the ACA's preventive services mandate violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act with respect to closely held corporations (32 HRR 705, 7/7/14).

“For plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, ERISA requires disclosure of information relevant to coverage of preventive services, including contraceptive coverage,” the DOL said on its Employee Benefits Security Administration website.

Summary plan descriptions must include a description “of the extent to which preventive services (which includes contraceptive services) are covered under the plan,” according to “FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XX).” For plans that reduce or eliminate coverage of contraceptive services after providing them, “expedited disclosure requirements”--not later than 60 days after changes are made--apply, it said. Other disclosure requirements, such as state insurance laws, also may apply, the DOL said.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) issued a statement July 17 saying he “applauded the Administration's announcement.”

Durbin also announced the introduction July 17 of the Preventive Care Coverage Notification Act, which would ensure that job applicants at for-profit corporations are informed in advance if the company intends to not provide contraception coverage.

The Senate July 16 turned back a Democratic proposal that would require for-profit companies to provide workers with insurance coverage for birth control, even if the employer has religious objections.

Text of the FAQs is available at