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Arkansas

Contraceptive Equity

Arkansas law requires health-insurance plans that cover prescription medication to provide equitable coverage for contraception.

What is required?  If a health-insurance plan provides coverage for prescription medication, it must provide coverage for Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription contraceptivon, except emergency contraception (EC).  

To which insurance plans does the law apply?
 All individual or group health-insurance plans, policies, or contracts issued, delivered, or renewed in the state that provide coverage for prescription medication.  

Does the law contain a refusal clause, allowing certain employers and/or insurers to refuse to provide or pay for contraceptive coverage?
  Yes.    

To whom does the refusal clause apply?
  Religious employers for whom prescription contraception is contrary to their religious tenets.  

What does the refusal clause allow?
  A religious employer may purchase a health-insurance plan, policy, or contract that excludes coverage for contraception.  

Is this refusal clause overbroad, jeopardizing insurance coverage for contraception for women?
  Yes.  The law broadly defines the term "religious employer" as a non-profit organization that has as one of its primary purposes the inculcation of religious values and primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets.  This exemption allows a broad range of organizations engaged in secular activities to deny women insurance coverage for contraception.  

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected?
  No.  

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised?
  No.  

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to obtain contraceptive coverage if their employer exercises a refusal clause?
  No.  

Ark. Code Ann. § 23-79-1101-1104 (Enacted 2005).


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