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The DOL, HHS and IRS have requested comments on alternative ways of providing coverage for contraceptive services without cost sharing. The requests concern nonexempt, nonprofit organizations with religious objections to covering contraceptive services.
As background, PPACA’s preventive services mandate requires non-grandfathered group health plans to cover such services without cost sharing for plan years beginning on or after Aug. 1, 2012. However, there is an exemption for qualifying religious employers and a one-year safe harbor for other nonprofit organizations with religious objections to covering such services. The agencies indicated they expected to issue further guidance concerning the safe harbor requiring insurers to offer group insurance without contraceptive coverage while also offering contraceptive coverage directly to participants and beneficiaries, free of charge and without cost sharing. The agencies said that they intended to develop policies that would achieve the same goals for self-insured plans sponsored by these organizations.
Consistent with these objectives, comments have been requested on issues such as which entities should be eligible for the safe harbor, how the coverage should be administered and how the contraceptive coverage would be paid for. Comments are due on or before June 19, 2012.