The Obama administration is now requiring that all employers offer birth control to their employees without a co-pay. The White House is making sure this requirement is applied to all faith-based universities and hospitals as well.
This new health reform will be put in place starting Aug. 1, 2012. This means that after this time all forms of contraceptives will have to be covered, once approved by the Food and Drug Administration, without any co-payments from the policyholders. Essentially, this new law will ensure that all females’ contraceptives are covered by their employers.
A rather difficult problem that the government will have to deal with is the reaction of faith-based groups. These faith-based groups are known to have an objection to the usage of contraceptives. The employees of faith-based groups usually tend to, but do not necessarily, have the same religious beliefs as their employers.
Sometime last year, there was an exemption made by the administration to this new rule. The exemption was only directed toward a small number of institutions – for example, Roman Catholic churches – where the use of contraceptives interferes with their religious beliefs. However, the White House made an announcement Jan. 20 that concerns all employees who work for faith-based groups, but who may not share the same religious beliefs. All faith-based groups will still need to cover birth control without co-pay, but are not required to start on the set day of Aug. 1. The government is allowing an additional year period for all faith-based group employers to start offering their coverage of birth control. Their starting date would be sometime in the month of August 2013. The government hopes that by allowing these faith-based groups to have an extra year, it will allow them to get used to the idea of their new policy.
Although the government is providing additional time for faith-based employers, some are not thrilled about the idea either way. The additional year was described as “irrelevant” by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who do not agree with the use of contraceptives. Opposed to the new regulation, spokeswoman for the conference Sister Mary Ann Walsh stated, “They still have the same outcome that they’re going to force people to act against their conscience. It’s meaningless.” Faith-based groups are not necessarily upset by the cost of the birth control; it is more the idea that they are covering something that goes against their beliefs.
A religion-based college with which we are all familiar is Messiah College. When asked what the administration at Messiah thinks about this new health regulation, Beth Lorow, assistant director of public relations said, “Contraceptives are already included in our health insurance. We think Catholic universities will be most affected by these regulations.”
First-year Erin Altares, a pre-med student at Elizabethtown College, stated, “Maybe it would be a benefit to Catholic establishments. If it is available for these establishments then maybe it will lower unwanted pregnancies, therefore lowering abortion rates which also go against their beliefs. The birth control can be seen as the lesser of two evils.”
First-year Alaina Hergenroeder agreed with Altares’ statement and added, “Employers should provide coverage for all health-related issues, and birth control should not be excluded from this.”
There will be some people who will be delighted at the idea of the new health reform law. Reproductive health advocates will be thrilled, especially after worrying that the White House would not support their cause.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports the use of birth control, there are already 28 states requiring issuers to cover the costs of contraceptives. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated, “It is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women.”