Obamacare: Catholic group can skip birth control benefit, court decides

“Can I get a health insurance plan that does not cover birth control?  I’m Catholic and do not want my money going for something that I disagree with. “

Praying in the Midwest

Dear Praying in the Midwest,

Health reform made birth control a “preventive” benefit, and therefore required health plans to cover it.  Catholic and other religious groups protested this requirement as a violation of their faith.  They have had their day in court, at least in one state:  on December 16, 2013, a group of Catholic health and education organizations won their case in New York federal court.  They will face no government enforcement action when their health plan excludes birth control.  (See The Insurance Journal or The New York Post coverage of the case.) The case will surely pave the path for Catholic and other religious employers in other states to do the same.

Short of working for a religious organization, you can join a medical sharing ministry. This is not technically health insurance, but rather a medical bill sharing mechanism. These plans generally require you to affirm that you do not drink alcohol, take illegal drugs, or have sex outside of marriage. These plans do not cover birth control.  To find a plan, do an internet search for “medical sharing ministry” or “Christian medical insurance.”  You might also ask your pastor or priest for help finding a plan.  (Health Unsurance does not promote any health insurer or health insurance plan.)

Joining a medical sharing ministry will meet your obligation to have health insurance, under health reform rules. You would not be able to get a subsidy to pay for your monthly premiums, since these plans are not offered on the health insurance exchanges (or “marketplaces”).

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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.