Employees can get free contraceptive coverage on employer plans, even if an employer is exempt from offering contraception for religious reasons.
Summary of How the Final Rules on Contraception for Religious Employers Work
Final rules issued by the Obama administration make it easier for religious employers to be granted an exemption from the mandate to provide contraception. Employers won’t have to arrange or pay for contraceptive coverage, but employees will be able to access free contraceptive services at no cost through a third party, as long as they maintain their employer plan.
To get the exemption employers must write a letter to Department of Health and Human Services stating their objection. HHS will then notify a third-party insurer of the company’s objection, and the insurer will provide birth control coverage to the company’s female employees at no additional cost to the company.
This rule applies to all religious employers (such as religious non-profits, religious hospitals, religious institutions of higher education, and religious employers like hobby lobby) but it does not apply to “places of worship”. Places of worship are still exempt from the mandate to provide contraceptive coverage.
“Women across the country should have access to preventive services, including contraception. At the same time, we recognize the deeply held views on these issues, and we are committed to securing women’s access to important preventive services at no additional cost under the Affordable Care Act, while respecting religious beliefs.” – HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell
Final Rules for Religious Employers
Final rules issued by the Obama administration simplify the definition of “religious employer” in regard to the exemption from providing contraceptive coverage. This makes it easier for employers, primarily houses of worship, to understand if they meet the exemption or not.
The final rules also lay out the accommodation for other non-profit religious organizations – such as non-profit religious hospitals and institutions of higher education – that object to contraceptive coverage. Under the accommodation these organizations will not have to contract, arrange, pay for or refer contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds, but such coverage is separately provided to women enrolled in their health plans at no cost. The approach taken in the final rules is similar to, but simpler than, that taken in the proposed rules, and responds to comments made by many stakeholders.
With respect to an insured health plan, including a student health plan, the non-profit religious organization provides notice to its insurer that it objects to contraception coverage. The insurer then notifies enrollees in the health plan that it is providing them separate no-cost payments for contraceptive services for as long as they remain enrolled in the health plan.
Similarly, with respect to self-insured health plans, the non-profit religious organization provides notice to its third party administrator that objects to contraception coverage. The third party administrator then notifies enrollees in the health plans that it is providing or arranging separate no-cost payments for contraceptive services for them for as long as they remain enrolled in the health plan.
The final rules provide more details on the accommodation for both insurers and third party administrators.
The final rules strike the appropriate between respecting the religious considerations raised by non-profit religious organizations and increasing access to important preventive services for women.
The final rules are available here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/07/02/2013-15866/coverage-of-certain-preventive-services-under-the-affordable-care-act
For more information about today’s final rules visit: http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Fact-Sheets-and-FAQs/womens-preven-02012013.html
Learn more about ObamaCare and contraception or learn more about how ObamaCare saved women $1.4 billion on birth control.