“All new insurance plans will be required to cover additional services and tests for women, with no out-of-pocket costs,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius during a news release in Washington on August 1, “including domestic violence screenings, FDA-approved contraception, breast-feeding counseling and supplies and a well-woman visit, where she can sit down and talk with her health care provider.”
The provision, one of the many facets of the Affordable Care Act, is a victory for women across the United States. As the picture states, “Simply being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition.”
BUT – not if you are employed by a religiously affiliated organization. Such organizations are exempt from the provision for a year while the administration negotiates a compromise with America’s religious communities.
But what about private organizations that are not officially religious but are owned by religious believers? That debate is also gaining traction in places like Colorado, where one non-denominational firm is exempt from the provision on the grounds that contraceptive devices infringe upon the owner’s beliefs. This raises the question of whether or not employers may impose their beliefs on employees, a discussion that will certainly be important in the coming year.