Obamacare: Birth control coverage — is it on? is it off?

I was just offered a job at a social service agency.  I’m 25 years old and still covered by my parents’ health plan.  I’m excited to have a job with benefits.  During the interview process, I learned that the agency is affiliated with the Catholic Church.  I’m afraid that the health plan will not cover birth control.  I can’t really ask the HR person this question without divulging more than I want to.  What should I do? Should I stay on my parents’ plan until I have to get off when I turn 26?

Young and Sexy

Dear Young and Sexy,

This is a sticky situation, isn’t it?  At the national level, the Catholic Church is suing the Obama administration over the health reform rule that requires plans to cover birth control.  The issue is that the requirement forces the church to pay for something that violates their religious beliefs.  Meanwhile, the health reform rules consider birth control to be a preventive care benefit and therefore must be included in all health plans.

It’s possible that the church will lose the lawsuit, and the plan will therefore cover birth control.  Or, even if the church loses, they could choose to pay a penalty rather than cover birth control; this outcome is somewhat less likely, since they would have the cost of the penalty plus the cost of offering a plan. A decision is a long way off; some people expect it to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What to do in the meantime?  You could ask the HR person for the plan’s call center number and group number.  Tell him or her that you have specific questions about covered services.  This will shut off the HR person’s urge to try to answer the question; he or she does not want any health information about you, for fear you will sue later for discrimination.  Or she may have a plan certificate in her office that you could read.

Your parent’s plan may kick you off when you have a job with health benefits.  Some employers have exercised their right to remove a dependent who have access to her own employer’s plan.  Check on this and make sure you won’t have a gap between plans.

Stay young and sexy as long as you can.  Someday you will look back on it and wish you had appreciated it more, though you never can at the time.

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Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.