The Trump administration plans to give employers in the US the option not to cover birth control in their health insurance plans, weakening a requirement put in place by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The rule would broaden a religious exemption from providing contraception coverage that was put in place by the Obama administration to more for-profit corporations and others not included in an earlier workaround, according to Trump administration officials.

The officials briefed reporters on the rule on Friday on condition that the officials not be identified.

About 200 employers that are involved in suing the government over the requirement to provide contraception coverage were likely to take advantage of the rule change, the administration estimated. That could affect about 120,000 women, the administration said.

The administration also announced guidelines to help insurers comply with a requirement that those in the Obamacare exchanges segregate funds used for abortions to ensure tax dollars don’t go toward the procedure.

Religious pushback

The Affordable Care Act required employers to cover birth control and an array of other preventive health services with no out-of-pocket costs. The Obama administration had allowed some religious organisations to opt out of the contraceptive requirement, but the religious groups said that the exemption process did not go far enough.

Obamacare required coverage for a broad range of contraceptive options, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, including surgical sterilisation, pills and intrauterine devices.

Before it went into effect, about 21% of women aged 15-44 years with employer-provided health coverage, reported spending their own money on birth-control pills, according to Kaiser. That fell to 3.6% in 2014.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America said most women used birth control and coverage should not be controversial.

"It’s basic healthcare that the vast majority of women will use in their lifetime," said Dana Singiser, vice-president for government relations and public policy. "We are talking about a fundamental right."


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