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Hobby Lobby: What California Small Businesses Need to Know About Religious Belief Exemptions

hobbylobbyWhat does the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case mean for California small businesses? With the new changes to the law, business owners with certain religious beliefs can claim exemptions from providing contraceptive coverage or insurance coverage for services that run contrary to their beliefs.  Depending on the level of accomodation the business owner is seeking, the business may need to file a particular form, present a formal letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or file a lawsuit.

Using Form 700 to Claim Exemption from Contraceptive Coverage

If you are  a small business owner and need to request exemption from providing contraceptive coverage, you will have to complete and a  Form 700 [PDF] and deliver it to a third-party administrator, who will then provide contraceptive coverage through taxpayer/government funds.

Opposition to Facilitating Contraceptive Coverage

Non-profits  with religious beliefs prohibiting the facilitation of  contraceptive coverage (i.e., by completing the Form 700 so that employees can obtain contraceptive coverage through taxpayer funds), will need to send a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services notifying the agency that the organization is a religious nonprofit and that it “has religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services.”

Opposition to Other Treatments

Small business owners that have objections to other forms of medical treatment for religious reasons (i.e., transfusions, etc.)  may have to file a lawsuit to be protected from governmental insurance/medical coverage requirements, on the basis of religious exemption.