Myths abound about HHS contraceptive mandate; here are the facts
Published: February 22, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Exaggerations and outright misrepresentations about the Department of Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate have been appearing in White House "fact sheets" and mainstream media. Here are some of the more frequently cited claims and the facts to counter them: Myth: Self-insurance is a seldom-used method of providing health insurance to employers, used mainly by church organizations to avoid having to pay for abortions or birth control. Fact: A majority of Americans who have private health insurance are in self-insured plans, according to separate reports by the Congressional Research Service and the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. The percentage was 44 percent in 1999, 55 percent in 2008 and had increased to 60 percent by 2011. Employees in large companies (those with 200 or more employees) were even more likely to be covered by a self-insured plan. Eighty-two percent of workers at large firms -- and 96 percent of those who work for a company with 5,000 or more workers -- were in a self-insured health plan. There is no precise count of how many of the employees working for Catholic organizations or institutions are in self-insured plans, but the number is believed to mirror that of the general population. Myth: Twenty-eight states already require employers to cover contraceptives for their employees, so the situation in those states will not change. Fact: Self-insured plans are excluded from state contraceptive mandates, but not from federal requirements. In addition, all but three states -- California, New York and Oregon -- include a broader religious exemption than the HHS one, which sets four criteria for an exemption: that an employer's purpose is to inculcate religious values, that it primarily hires and serves people who share its religious tenets, and that it is a nonprofit organization under certain sections of the tax code.
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