As part of the Affordable Care Act, starting August 1st, many insurance plans will be required to fully cover contraception without co-pays or deductibles as part of women's preventive care. This step will help more women to make health care decisions based on what's best for them—not their insurance company—and could save them hundreds of dollars every year.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that certain religious organizations, including churches, will be exempt from paying their insurers to cover contraception.
Here's a look at how the new contraception policy will affect women and religious institutions.Support for contraceptive coverage
More than half of all Americans already live in the 28 states that require insurance companies to cover contraception.
Most women—including 98 percent of Catholic women—who have had sex have used contraception, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute.
Some religiously-affiliated hospitals and universities already provide birth control coverage to their employees.
A majority of Americans support including contraception coverage in health plans at no cost to women.
Health care experts like the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend contraception as a preventive service.
Under the new provisions in the Affordable Care Act, women will have access to the care and family planning services they need without worrying about the cost.
Women using contraception reduce their risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers to about half the rate of the rest of the population.
Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the new law.
Other non-profit organizations, like religiously affiliated hospitals and universities that employ or serve people regardless of their faiths may qualify for a one-year transition period to prepare for the new law.
No individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception.
No one will be forced to buy or use contraception.
Drugs such as RU-486 that cause abortion are not covered by this policy. The President remains committed to maintaining strict limits on federal funding for abortions.
While the monthly cost of contraception for women ranges between $30 and $50, insurers and experts agree that the savings would more than offset the costs.
It will also save employers money. The National Business Group on Health estimated that employers would pay 15 to 17 percent more not to provide coverage than they would to provide it.
Let us know how the new policy will impact your life.