AG: Insurance Law, Human Rights Act Require Contraceptive Coverage
HELENA – In an opinion released Tuesday, Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath held that when insurance policies and benefit plans include prescription drug coverage, state law requires the inclusion of prescription contraceptives and related medical services like routine gynecological visits.
Montana’s so-called “unisex” insurance law prohibits discrimination based on sex. The opinion cites a 1993 case in which the Montana Supreme Court held that omitting pregnancy from any insurance policy is “on its face, sex discrimination” as the unisex law forbids all sex-based discriminations in insurance policies.
McGrath held that, “it follows that exclusion of coverage for prescription contraceptives and related medical services would also be sex discrimination and a violation of Montana’s unisex insurance statute.”
At the same time, the Montana Human Rights Act forbids employers from discriminating “in compensation … condition, or privilege of employment” based on gender. The federal government has interpreted a parallel section of federal law – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act – to require employers who offer comprehensive health plans to include prescription contraceptives. The Montana Human Rights Commission follows the interpretation of the federal rules in applying the Montana Human Rights Act.
Senate President Jon Tester requested the opinion. Opinions of the attorney general carry the weight of law unless a court overturns them or the legislature modifies the laws involved.