In what some are calling a “startling” ruling, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby’s objection to the contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act. The ruling, which recognizes the religious rights of “closely held” corporations, could have far-reaching impacts, possibly allowing thousands of companies across the nation to opt out of other laws on religious grounds.
While we could devote this entire article (as news outlets around the country have) to specific aspects of the ruling, we want to address the obvious question, “what does this mean to brokers?”
On a personal level, depending on where you stand on this issue, this ruling could be good news or bad news for you – the ruling does prioritize the religious belief’s of a company’s owners over those of its employees, but if the employer is the one purchasing insurance for the employees, some would argue that that’s only fair. We won’t get into the political – and certainly not the religious – debate.
But on a business level, this ruling will almost definitely have an impact on brokers. Employers are already confused about the law, as evidenced by our own experience as well as a recent article in USA Today entitled Businesses tackle the Obamacare equation. What the article says is that the law is very complicated and that business owners are still crunching the numbers and trying to figure out how to comply. The Supreme Court ruling, for many business owners, will lead to even more questions – questions their brokers will be expected to answer.
The law also has implications for insurance companies. They’ll now have to figure out how to allow “closely held” corporations to opt out of certain benefits. And not everyone’s religious objection is the same – some business owners might be opposed to the “day after pill,” as Hobby Lobby is, while others might object to providing any contraceptive benefit.
One thing is certain: the more confused our clients are, the more secure our jobs remain. Good advisors are and will continue to be a necessity. However, the advice that we give is starting to change, and as the law continues to baffle business owners, some advisors are recommending that their clients abandon their group coverage and let the government take care of the cost for their employees. And their clients are listening.