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Insurance Coverage for Contraception

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

What is required?  If an insurance plan covers prescription medication and medical services, it must cover prescription contraceptives and related medical services. 

What is the legal basis for this requirement?  Unlike other states, Michigan has not enacted a specific contraceptive-coverage law.  Rather, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued a declaratory ruling, stating an employer's exclusion of prescription contraceptives from a health plan that covers other prescription medication violates the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimination.     

To which insurance plans does the law apply?  
Comprehensive health plans that include preventive care, treatment, and prescription drug coverage.

Does the commission's ruling allow certain employers and/or insurers to refuse to provide or pay for contraceptive coverage?

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

What does the refusal clause allow?  A religious employer may require issuers of its health-insurance plans to exclude coverage for contraception.

Is this refusal clause overbroad, jeopardizing insurance coverage for contraception for women?  
No.  The law narrowly defines the term "religious employer" as a nonprofit organization that has the purpose of inculcation of religious values and that primarily employs and serves persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.  This narrow definition is appropriately limited in scope, applying to religious entities but not broad-based entities that operate in the public sphere.

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

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

Michigan Civil Rights Commission, Declaratory Ruling on Contraceptive Equity, Aug. 21, 2006, at (last visited Aug. 8, 2012); Mich. Comp. Laws §37.2201 (Enacted 1976; Last Amended 1980), 37.2202 (Enacted 1976; Last Amended 2009); James Prichard, Civil Rights Commission: Drug Plans Can't Exclude Contraceptives, Assoc. Press, Aug. 22, 2006.

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