Contraceptive/Sterilization Exemptions Finalized
Regulators announced last week that after dozens of lawsuits and a court injunction of their interim final rule from a year ago, they have finalized their criteria for certain employer plans to exclude parts of the contraceptive/sterilization mandate to which the employer objects on religious or moral grounds. Time will tell whether these final rules will be challenged in court again.
- The religious belief final rule provides exemption, with accommodation available as an optional voluntary process, to any non-governmental plan (including publicly traded entities) for the portions of the mandate to which they object on religious
- The moral conviction final rule provides exemption, with accommodation available as an optional voluntary process, to nonprofits, for-profit entities which are not publicly traded, and non-governmental institutions of higher education, for the portions of the mandate to which they object on moral
- Here is the full list of entities granted exemption:
- Churches, integrated auxiliaries, and religious orders with religious objections;
- Nonprofit organizations with religious or moral objections;
- For-profit entities that are not publicly traded, with religious or moral objections;
- For-profit entities that are publicly traded, with religious objections;
- Other non-governmental employers with religious objections;
- Non-governmental institutions of higher education with religious or moral objections;
- Individuals with religious or moral objections, with employer sponsored or individual market coverage, where the plan sponsor and/or issuer (as applicable) are willing to offer them a plan omitting contraceptive coverage to which they object;
- Issuers with religious or moral objections, to the extent they provide coverage to a plan sponsor or individual that is also exempt.
These final rules take effect 60 days after publication in the federal register (which should be November 15), so should be effective Monday January 14, 2019, too late to benefit plans that renew 1/1/19. Employers must remember that plan materials, including the Summary Plan Description (SPD) and the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), must disclose exclusions within certain deadlines.
“The Departments estimate the exemptions should affect no more than approximately 200 employers with religious or moral objections.”
Please let your IMA Benefits team know if you have any questions; we will continue to monitor regulator guidance and offer meaningful, practical, timely information.