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5500 Preparer's Manual for 2012 Plan Years

5500 Preparer's Manual for 2012 Plan Years
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CCH® BENEFITS — 08/27/12

CCIIO Issues Updated Guidance On Contraceptive Coverage Requirement Safe Harbor

from Spencer’s Benefits Reports: The Center for Consumer Information and Oversight (CCIIO) has issued updated guidance on the temporary enforcement safe harbor for plans requesting an additional year to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision requiring group health plans to provide no-cost contraceptive services to women. The original guidance was issued on Feb. 10, 2012, and the updated version has clarified that the temporary safe harbor is available to nonprofit organizations with religious objections to some but not all contraceptive coverage.

The ACA requires that group health plans provide coverage for women’s preventive health services without cost-sharing. Regulations published in August 2011 added eight preventive services for women, and one of these preventive services included recommended contraceptive services. The rule does allow certain nonprofit religious employers that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraceptive services. This includes churches, but excludes religious universities and hospitals. However, beginning Aug. 1, 2012, most new and renewed health plans are required to provide contraceptive services for women without cost sharing. However, nonprofit employers with a religious objection to providing this coverage are allowed an additional year to comply. These plans have until Aug. 1, 2013, to comply, but must provide certification that they qualify for the delayed implementation.

The updated guidance clarifies three points about the temporary enforcement safe harbor:

The guidance includes an updated version of the Certification form for nonprofit employers to fill out and provide to the CCIIO. However, organizations that have already completed the certification from the Feb. 10, 2012, bulletin are not required to recertify eligibility for the safe harbor.

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