Insurers will be required to offer stand-alone insurance policies that cover contraceptive costs to religious nonprofit companies that object to the reform law's contraceptive coverage mandate.
In a proposed rule released Friday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said religious-affiliated companies, like Catholic hospitals and universities, won't have to directly pay for contraception coverage, but their workers can still receive such coverage through a separate health plan provided by the insurance company, The Hill's Healthwatch reported.
With this policy, HHS is returning to an amendment of its own decision requiring religiously-affiliated employers provide free contraception coverage. Under that adjustment announced last February, insurers must provide contraceptives directly to members if their employers object.
The new rule now requires insurers automatically enroll employees of objecting non-profit companies in a separate individual policy that provides free contraceptive coverage. HHS said the costs of these special health plans will be covered by fees that insurers pay to participate in the health insurance exchanges, according to Politico.
HHS also expanded the term "religious employer" to include employers that have a purpose that extends beyond particular religious value and employ or hire people of different religions. That means more companies could opt out of including contraceptive coverage in their health plans.