In the new health care law, better known as Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), insurance plans must cover women's contraceptive services with no co-pays. But employers -mostly churches, religious schools and hospitals — took issue with being forced to provide a service that goes against their beliefs.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press statement that women can have separate coverage that their employers would be exempt from paying. Under the proposed rule, religious organizations would inform their insurer of their exemption, and then the insurer would inform the organization's employees that the insurer would provide them with no-cost contraceptive coverage through a separate insurance policy not connected to the religious employer.
"Today, the administration is taking the next step in providing women across the nation with coverage of recommended preventive care at no cost, while respecting religious concerns," said Sebelius. "We will continue to work with faith-based organizations, women's organizations, insurers and others to achieve these goals."
The proposed rules lay out how the costs of both the insurer and the third party administrator would be covered, without any charge to either the religious organization or the enrollees.
Additionally, the proposed rules simplify and clarify the definition of “religious employer” for purposes of the exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement. These employers, primarily houses of worship, can exclude contraception coverage from their health plans for their employees.