The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has announced that it will give certain nonprofit religious employers one more year to comply with a requirement to cover contraceptives under health care reform’s preventive services regulations.
The preventive services rules:
- Require group health plans and health insurers to cover certain preventive services without imposing cost-sharing requirements.
- Do not apply to grandfathered plans under health care reform.
Under previous HHS rules, plans and insurers were generally required to provide coverage for contraceptive methods and counseling, but a limited exemption was provided for religious employers that satisfied set criteria (for instance, mainly employing individuals who share the employer’s religious beliefs).
HHS did not expand the exemption for religious employers, but has provided a delayed compliance date for nonprofit employers who do not provide contraceptive coverage due to religious beliefs. These employers will have until August 1, 2013 to meet the preventive service requirements. Plans that do not qualify for delayed implementation must cover contraceptives beginning August 1, 2012.
To take advantage of the delayed deadline, nonprofit employers are required to certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. HHS will require employers that do not cover contraceptive services to give their employees a notice stating that the services are available at other sites, such as public clinics. The delayed compliance date will be included in regulations that finalize interim final regulations on the preventive services requirements for health plans.
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