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More Employers Can Opt-Out of Birth Control Coverage

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Two new federal rules widen the range of employers that can leave birth control coverage out of their health insurance plans. That means some previously insured women will now have to pay out of pocket for contraception. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

Since 2012 the Affordable Care Act has required new or updated health insurance plans to cover the cost of birth control for women, except for plans provided by some churches and religious organizations.

The new rules allow more types of employers to avoid the requirement for birth control coverage due to religious or moral objections, including nonprofit organizations, businesses, higher education institutions, and individuals. Employers can opt-out without notifying the government.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the rules will affect at most 127,000 women, a small fraction of the population. But critics contest that number and say the rules give employers "a license to discriminate" against women.

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Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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