Clarification on the Birth Control Mandate

birth control pillsThe Obama administration has released a clarification on the rules regarding the birth control mandate. It is the portion of the Affordable Care Act that requires health plans to cover contraception. Do you understand what changed and what stayed the same? This blog will give you the facts.

The birth control mandate is part of the Affordable Care Act. As of August 1, 2012, all health plans are required to cover women’s preventative health care without charging for a co-pay, coinsurance, or deductible. It includes coverage for all forms of contraception that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

This rule created a bit of controversy. Religious leaders, and religious business owners, felt that the requirement to cover contraception in employer sponsored health plans violated the personal religious beliefs of the business owner. A compromise was made to exclude places of worship from the birth control mandate.

Some still felt that the rules regarding birth control coverage in employer sponsored health plans were unclear. Recently, the Obama administration issued a clarification about who will be required to comply with the birth control mandate and who will be exempt from it.

Who is exempt?

* Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship

* Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship that operate parochial schools or other services (such as soup kitchens) that benefit or employ people of different religious faiths. This is a change from the previous wording in the law that said: primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.

* Any religious institution that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identifies as a religious non-profit. This may include some Catholic hospitals and universities.

Who is not exempt?
* Religious businesses that are for-profit companies or corporations. Simply put, religious businesses that the IRS does not identify as non-profit are not exempt from the birth control mandate.

Other Key Points

* Employees and students at religiously affiliated non-profit groups will have access to contraception coverage even if the institution they work for, or study at, objects.

* The private health insurance company that provides employer (or student) health plans to a religious non-profit organization will have to cover the cost of contraception, entirely.

It will take place through separate individual plans with the religious non-profit employer. This would ensure that the religious organization does not have to pay for the contraception coverage that it objects to, and it also would ensure that women have access to contraception coverage – no matter who they work for.

* Things will work a bit differently for religious non-profit organizations that self-insure. In these situations, employees would still have access to a health insurance plan that covers the cost of contraption. It would come from a private insurer and will be arranged by a third party administrator. Again, this prevents the religious non-profit organization from having to pay for the contraception coverage it objects to, and would also ensure that women have access to contraceptive coverage – no matter who they work for.

Image by Nate Grigg on Flickr

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