The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released its final rule regarding contraception coverage, requiring that religious-affiliated companies' employees can obtain birth control through stand-alone policies issued by insurers.
The rule, which was issued Tuesday and is almost identical to the proposed version published in January, finalizes that religious-affiliated companies don't have to directly pay for contraception coverage, but their workers can still receive that coverage through a separate health plan provided by the insurance company at no cost.
"We've much more clearly defined how those benefits are to be delivered and how insulated the eligible organization is for contracting for, paying for or referring for the cost of the coverage for these benefits," Michael Hash, director of the Office of Health Reform at HHS, told Kaiser Health News.
Under the rule, the religious employer would first inform the insurer that it objects to contraceptive coverage. The insurer then would notify the company's workers that it offers separate no-cost payments for contraceptive services.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the rule is a compromise between religious groups and women. "Today's announcement reinforces our commitment to respect the concerns of houses of worship and other non-profit religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage, while helping to ensure that women get the care they need, regardless of where they work," Sebelius said in a statement.