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HHS finalizes rules on coverage of contraceptives

Friday June 28, 2013
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The Obama administration has issued its final rules for providing women with recommended preventive care — including contraceptive services prescribed by a healthcare provider — with no cost-sharing.

The rules, issued through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also represent an effort to respect the concerns of nonprofit religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage, according to HHS. The rules reflect comments received after a draft version of the rules was made public in February.

The rules simplify the definition of "religious employer" for purposes of the exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement in response to concerns raised by some religious organizations. These employers, primarily houses of worship, may exclude contraceptive coverage from their health plans for employees and their dependents.

Other nonprofit religious organizations — such as hospitals and institutions of higher education — that object to contraceptive coverage also received an accommodation in the rules. However, it remains to be seen whether the accommodation is sufficient to stave off the various lawsuits that have been pending since the administration first disclosed the rules.

Under the accommodation, organizations will not have to contract, arrange, pay for or refer contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds, but such coverage is provided separately 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," according to an HHS news release.

With respect to an insured health plan, including a student health plan, the nonprofit religious organization informs 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 nonprofit religious organization provides notice to its third-party administrator that it objects to contraception coverage. The administrator then notifies enrollees in the health plans that it is providing or arranging separate no-cost payments for contraceptive services for as long as they remain enrolled in the health plan.

Some of the preventive services for women that require coverage with no cost-sharing under the ACA are: well-woman visits, gestational diabetes screening, HPV DNA testing, STI counseling, HIV screening and counseling, contraception and contraceptive counseling, interpersonal and domestic violence screening and counseling, and breast-feeding support, supplies and counseling.

Read more information about the rules related to contraceptive coverage: www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Fact-Sheets-and-FAQs/womens-preven-02012013.html.

See a full list of services covered with no cost-sharing for all adults, women and children: www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/factsheets/2010/07/preventive-services-list.html.


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