While I wish the Supreme Court had ruled the other way in the Hobby Lobby case, the optimist in me (a small one to be sure) feels that all the recent talk of descending down a slippery slope where corporations will refuse to pay for health insurance policies that cover drugs and procedures that they find objectionable on religious grounds is entirely overblown. First of all, slippery slopes are rare if not nonexistent in US politics, law, culture, and business. Second, the Supreme Court merely settled one case in a narrowly defined (i.e. applicable only to the named parties in the suit), it did not change any laws or declare any laws unconstitutional, nor did it strike down the ACA birth control requirement. Third, while it set a precedent that future litigants can cite in future suits, I do not think many companies will be willing to take the time, effort, risk, legal liability, and especially the cost of denying employees drugs and medical procedures when litigation is almost sure to follow.
Most companies, I optimistically feel, will not choose to go down this road as it is hard enough to remain profitable as a company and all companies seek as few legal headaches as possible. Plus, no company will want the bad PR and its possible effect on the bottom line. The idea that a company will decide to not pay for or allow its health insurance provider to cover blood transfusions, as some are suggesting will happen, seems ludicrous. I don’t think any company will be willing to open itself up to that legal liability, nor do I think any insurance company will do so either. Really, I don’t think a health insurance company would ever consider creating a health plan that doesn’t cover blood transfusions, which are usually essential and life-saving, due to the legal liability and bad PR it would pose. I bet (and hope) that if asked to do so by a company, the health insurance company would refuse.
While the Supreme Court made a bad call, it seems unlikely it will bring on the extreme situations some are predicting. And even if a handful of companies decide to try their luck in court, that will hardly be a slippery slope and they outcome of such cases would be nowhere near assured.