Insurance companies will now be required to provide women with free birth control under the Affordable Care Act if their employers opt out of providing them with this coverage on religious grounds, the Wall Steeet Journal reports.
The Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) passed the rule on Friday, ensuring that women will be able to get birth control for free regardless of their employers’ religious exemptions.
Under the Affordable Care Act, women are entitled to “preventive care and screenings provided … including all Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for women with reproductive capacity, as prescribed by a health care provider.”
In other words, health insurance companies are required to cover the costs of anything falling under the category of “contraceptive services.”
Employers providing their workers with health insurance were required to cover the costs of these contraceptive services, too, until the Supreme Court ruled last year in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that an employer had the right to refuse its female employees coverage if it conflicted with their religious beliefs.
But, as Justice Alito wrote in the decision, the court did not hold ” that an insurance coverage mandate must necessarily fall” if an employer claimed religious exemption.
Because the mandate itself was not outlawed, insurance companies will now take responsibility for the costs of all contraceptive services not covered by religiously exempt employers.
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