HHS Clarifies Women's Preventive Health Safe Harbor Bulletin
August 17, 2012
On August 16, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) clarified its February 10, 2012 bulletin outlining a safe harbor until August 1, 2013 for certain non-profit employers to comply with the preventive care women's health amendment. As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), affected employers are those who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their health plans, but do not qualify for the full exemption.
In particular, HHS clarified:
- The safe harbor is also available to non-profit organizations with religious objections to some but not all contraceptive coverage.
- Group health plans that tried to exclude or limit contraceptive coverage prior to February 10, 2012 can have the one-year delay, even if they were unsuccessful in their attempts and subsequently covered such contraceptive services under the plan.
- Non-profit organizations that aren't certain if they qualify for the religious employer exemption may use the safe harbor.
- The notice these employers must provide to employees has been modified to include the word “some” when applicable, e.g. your group health plan will not include coverage of some contraceptives services. Employers that already provided the notice do not need to send a new one.
- Organizations that believe they meet the safe harbor criteria must document its self-certification. Employers that have already completed the safe harbor certification are not required to recertify.
* The updated bulletin is available on the Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) website.