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Obama Exempts Religious Institutions, Puts Cost of Contraceptive Coverage on Insurance Companies

By February 10, 2012

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Today President Obama announced that religious organizations will not be required to pay for for contraceptive coverage for their employees; instead, such coverage will be provided by the insurance companies themselves free of charge.

According to a White House press release:

...[The] Administration will implement a policy that accommodates religious liberty while protecting the health of women. Today, nearly 99 percent of all women have used contraception at some point in their lives, but more than half of all women between the ages of 18-34 struggle to afford it.

Under the new policy...women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works.  The policy also ensures that if a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge....

Today, the Obama Administration will publish final rules in the Federal Register that:

  • Exempts churches, other houses of worship, and similar organizations from covering contraception on the basis of their religious objections.
  • Establishes a one year transition period for religious organizations while this policy is being implemented.

The President will also announce that his Administration will propose and finalize a new regulation during this transition year to address the religious objections of the non-exempted religious organizations. The new regulation will require insurance companies to cover contraception if the non-exempted religious organization chooses not to. Under the policy:

  • Religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception.
  • Religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception.
  • Contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers' insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception.
  • Insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.

Covering contraception saves money for insurance companies by keeping women healthy and preventing spending on other health services. For example, there was no increase in premiums when contraception was added to the Federal Employees Health Benefit System and required of non-religious employers in Hawaii.  One study found that covering contraception lowered premiums by 10 percent or more.

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February 15, 2012 at 8:21 am
(1) Anita says:

Of course all women (and men) ought to have access to all kinds of healthcare, including contraception. Unfortunately, this is another sleight of hand by a disappointing President who has trouble taking a stand. How can insurance companies provide something for free?

Is there any chance this country will ever join much of the rest of the civilized world and develop some sanity about health care?

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