The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case back in March; it handed down its ruling on Monday. Credit: Getty Images
The political and legal fallout of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow for-profit companies to exempt birth control in their employee health coverage will be measured in the coming years.
But for the employees of Hobby Lobby, and about 50 other companies that have filed for similar religious exemptions, it amounts to a “tax on women and families,” said Dr. Susan Rubin, assistant professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
not making much more than minimum wage, and it’s a lot of additional cost if you’re making the average salary for retail employees,” Rubin said.
Women, and men whose partners are covered under their insurance policies, will now essentially have to pay twice to get medication that is used in some form near universally. “Families want to use contraception — 99 percent of heterosexually active females have used contraception and may stop using for a number of reasons, one of them being cost.”
Dr. Susan Rubin. Credit: Montefiore Medical Center
Moreover, many women have medical conditions that limit which methods of contraception they can use, or risk developing complications. But without insurance coverage, those options may be priced out of their reach.
Choosing to continue an unintended pregnancy is “not the way to have a family-friendly policy in this country,” Rubin said. And if a woman chooses not to have a child, then she faces significant hurdles in many states with abortions becoming less and less accessible. “We’re cutting abortion access and we’re cutting contraception access — so what’s the end result?”
Beyond preventing pregnancy, birth control drugs have non-contraceptive benefits for women, including relief from painful periods, heavy bleeding, fibroids, clotting disorders and more. But these drugs have a role in ensuring a healthy pregnancy, too.
explicitly stated that this ruling only applies to contraception — that speaks to this not being a religious issue, but a sex and contraception issue,” Rubin said. “It is shocking that this is going on in the United States in 2014.”
Priced out of care
Here are the costs for some common contraception options, according to Planned Parenthood. Many methods also require a physician’s visit. To find out which is right for you, consult your physician or visit www.plannedparenthood.org and take a short survey.