(HealthDay News) – The final rule has been issued on contraception coverage and religious organizations, respecting the religious considerations raised by non-profit organizations while increasing access to contraceptive coverage for women, according to a report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Based on public feedback received in response to the Notice of Public Rulemaking issued in February 2013, a new rule has simplified the definition of a religious employer for the purposes of exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement and provides accommodations for other non-profit religious organizations.

In the new rule, religious employers, primarily houses of worship, may exclude contraceptive coverage from their employee health plans. Other religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage will not have to contract, arrange, or pay for contraceptive coverage, but coverage will be provided to women at no additional cost. For insured health plans, non-profit religious organizations can notify insurers that they object to contraception coverage; the insurer will notify employees that they are provided with separate contraception coverage for as long as they are enrolled in the health plan. For self-insured health plans, these notifications are conducted via a third party administrator.

“The health care law guarantees millions of women access to recommended preventive services at no cost,” Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, said in a statement. “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.”

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