Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to spill Roe vs. Wade, consumers, providers and insurers have had many questions about the impact of Dobbs on abortion services under health plans (click here to access our article on the Dobbs decision and its impact on group health plans). The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) quickly issued guidelines regarding access to and coverage of reproductive health care generally, and the HHS Office of Civil Rights also issued guidelines regarding confidentiality. patients (see our recent article).
The HHS Know Your Rights: Reproductive Health Care guidance (the “Guide”) reminded the public that despite Dobbs, abortion remains legal in many states and other reproductive health care services remain protected by law. Certainly, the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) and its preventive care provisions remain in full force and generally include various types of birth control/family planning methods in no-cost health plans. In addition, other preventive care services such as well-woman visits (for example, vaginal smears); counselling/testing; breast and cervical care screening; prenatal care; interpersonal violence testing/counselling and HIV testing and counseling for STIs are generally free services.
The Guide also provided information on medical abortion; Medicaid coverage for abortion under certain circumstances and helpful links on accessing abortion services, including information for those without health insurance; information about filing complaints with HHS; emergency care and patient privacy.
Employers may wish to incorporate the new guidance into their communications to employees about their group health plan benefits, and should also confirm that their group health plans comply with the applicable requirements. Employers should continue to monitor further guidance from government agencies on this matter.