The Obama administration has taken a step back on its original proposals for birth control cover in health insurance plans.
After a year of head to head disputes with the Catholic
hierarchy, the American government has decided to concede religious non
profit organisations the possibility of offering policies that do not
cover contraceptive care expenses.
A third-party insurance company would
have to cover the cost of this type of coverage.
Religious groups have been contesting the
White House’s plans for months and even attempted to sue the government
on 40 occasions, claiming that were rules promoting medical coverage of
birth control treatments to be passed, these would force them to go
against their faith-based beliefs.
Today the U.S. Department of Health
presented a new proposal that is a compromise between the safeguarding
of women’s health and the protection of the religious sensitivities of
those who oppose contraceptive cover. "All new insurance plans will be
required to cover additional services and tests for women, with no
out-of-pocket costs," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen
It remains to be seen whether Catholic
organizations will accept this new approach. This will depend on the
technical details of operational costs, which seem pretty ambiguous at
the moment, according to the New York Times. Although the
proposal states there is no obligation to pay for contraception, it
envisages payment for this coverage coming from “separate individual
health insurance policies” with no out-of-pocket costs for women.
According to the proposal, insurance policies should cover the increase
in initial costs as costs would be lowered in the long run as a result
of “improvements in women’s healthcare and fewer childbirths.”
The response religious groups will give could be
influenced by the varied opinions on the issue: the more radical
evangelical leaders and Catholic bishops are notoriously against the use
of artificial contraception methods. Hence why they fought so fervently
for a total exemption from healthcare coverage. Other denominations
that have an important presence in the U.S. generally accept people
resorting to birth control methods but are against health insurance
covering the morning-after pill as in their eyes, this is equivalent to