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Rhode Island

Contraceptive Equity

Rhode Island 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 contraception.

To which insurance plans does the law apply?  Individual or group health-insurance contracts, plans, or policies issued or renewed in the state, except certain limited benefit policies, 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 bona fide religious tenets.

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

Is this refusal clause overbroad, jeopardizing insurance coverage for contraception for women?  No.  The law appropriately defines the term "religious employer" as a tax-exempt church or association of churches or an elementary or secondary school controlled, operated, or principally supported by a church or an association of churches.  This definition is appropriately limited in scope, applying to religious entities but not broad-based entities that operate in the public sphere.

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected?  Yes.  An employer exercising a refusal clause must provide written notice to prospective enrollees listing the contraceptive health-care services the employer refuses to cover.

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.

R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 27-18-57, -19-48, -20-43, -41-59 (Enacted 2000).


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