In a decision today, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sebelius announced that almost all employers will have to include coverage for women’s preventive services, including contraceptive services, starting in August 2012 without charging a co-pay, co-insurance, or deductible.
Over 200,000 comments, including comments from the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, were submitted to HHS regarding a piece of the preventive services for women rule, a proposed religious employer exception. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops was pushing hard on the Administration to create a broader exemption, allowing them to continue to deny women who work for a wide range of organizations affiliated with religious institutions coverage for comprehensive reproductive health services. The Administration heard clearly from women that where they work should not determine the comprehensiveness of their health care coverage.
The final rule provided an additional year for religious organizations that do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans to come into compliance with the regulations requiring comprehensive preventative services to women in private health plans at no additional cost. This standard follows the Wisconsin Contraceptive Equity law, which requires all health plans that cover prescriptions to cover prescription contraception, with no employer exception.
The full list of women’s preventive services provided under this provision of the Affordable Care Act can be found here, and a frequently asked questions document from our partners at the National Women’s Law Center can be found here.
You can send a thank you note to HHS through our partners at Raising Women’s Voices here.