Coverage for free birth control wasn't always required of employers. It became a rule under President Obama's Affordable Care Act, under a contraceptive mandate that officially went into effect for employers in August 2012. But the mandate was always subject to executive change, meaning a new administration could roll it back. That's what we saw from the President Trump's Department of Justice Friday.
The new rules allow certain employers, like non-profits, higher education institutes and many private companies to become exempt from offering health insurance plans that offer free birth control for religious or moral reasons.
It's something they'll have to prove to the Department of Health and Human Services before they become exempt, but there's really no criteria on what has to be proven.
"The only place it is defined is through myriad court cases over the years," explains Greensboro attorney Kevin Harrison, who specializes in employment law.
In other words, this will likely be dealt with on a case by case basis. But as quickly as the change in rules came, Harrison doesn't think we'll be seeing effects over night.
"More than likely your insurers not just going to be able to unilaterally change your coverage when you go into work on Monday."
He expects changes will probably come in 2018. Some people might not see any changes, but for others, birth control could start coming at a cost.
It's something Harrison recommends everyone keep an eye on. The changes will likely affect the whole healthcare market, even if it's not something we see immediately, and it could result in coverage changes for everyone.
"You want to make sure you're reading the fine print now more than ever with everything in flux as it is in the healthcare industry."
If you want to know if your employer is acting on this, Harrison recommends checking with your plan administrator, which is probably someone in your Human Resources office. Ask them what changes might be coming and if it affects your coverage before the next time you enroll.