58-3-178. Coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs or devices and for outpatient contraceptive services; exemption for religious employers.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, every insurer providing a health benefit plan that provides coverage for prescription drugs or devices shall provide coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs or devices. Coverage shall include coverage for the insertion or removal of and any medically necessary examination associated with the use of the prescribed contraceptive drug or device. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the same deductibles, coinsurance, and other limitations as apply to prescription drugs or devices covered under the health benefit plan shall apply to coverage for prescribed contraceptive drugs or devices. A health benefit plan may require that the total coinsurance, based on the useful life of the drug or device, be paid in advance for those drugs or devices that are inserted or prescribed and do not have to be refilled on a periodic basis.

(b) Every insurer providing a health benefit plan that provides coverage for outpatient services provided by a health care professional shall provide coverage for outpatient contraceptive services. The same deductibles, coinsurance, and other limitations as apply to outpatient services covered under the health benefit plan shall apply to coverage for outpatient contraceptive services.

(c) As used in this section, the term:

(1) "Health benefit plan" means an accident and health insurance policy or certificate; a nonprofit hospital or medical service corporation contract; a health maintenance organization subscriber contract; a plan provided by a multiple employer welfare arrangement; or a plan provided by another benefit arrangement, to the extent permitted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, or by any waiver of or other exception to that Act provided under federal law or regulation. "Health benefit plan" does not mean any plan implemented or administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services or the United States Department of Health and Human Services, or any successor agency, or its representatives. "Health benefit plan" also does not mean any of the following kinds of insurance:

a. Accident.

b. Credit.

c. Disability income.

d. Long-term care or nursing home care.

e. Medicare supplement.

f. Specified disease.

g. Dental or vision.

h. Coverage issued as a supplement to liability insurance.

i. Workers' compensation.

j. Medical payments under automobile or homeowners.

k. Hospital income or indemnity.

l. Insurance under which benefits are payable with or without regard to fault and that is statutorily required to be contained in any liability policy or equivalent self-insurance.

m. Short-term limited duration health insurance policies as defined in Part 144 of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(2) "Insurer" includes an insurance company subject to this Chapter, a service corporation organized under Article 65 of this Chapter, a health maintenance organization organized under Article 67 of this Chapter, and a multiple employer welfare arrangement subject to Article 49 of this Chapter.

(3) "Outpatient contraceptive services" means consultations, examinations, procedures, and medical services provided on an outpatient basis and related to the use of contraceptive methods to prevent pregnancy.

(4) "Prescribed contraceptive drugs or devices" means drugs or devices that prevent pregnancy and that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use as contraceptives and obtained under a prescription written by a health care provider authorized to prescribe medications under the laws of this State. Prescription drugs or devices required to be covered under this section shall not include:

a. The prescription drug known as "RU-486" or any "equivalent drug product" as defined in G.S. 90-85.27(1).

b. The prescription drug marketed under the name "Preven" or any "equivalent drug product" as defined in G.S. 90-85.27(1).

(d) A health benefit plan subject to this section shall not do any of the following:

(1) Deny eligibility or continued eligibility to enroll or to renew coverage under the terms of the health benefit plan, solely for the purpose of avoiding the requirements of this section.

(2) Provide monetary payments or rebates to an individual participant or beneficiary to encourage the individual participant or beneficiary to accept less than the minimum protections available under this section.

(3) Penalize or otherwise reduce or limit the reimbursement of an attending provider because the provider prescribed contraceptive drugs or devices, or provided contraceptive services in accordance with this section.

(4) Provide incentives, monetary or otherwise, to an attending provider to induce the provider to withhold from an individual participant or beneficiary contraceptive drugs, devices, or services.

(e) A religious employer may request an insurer providing a health benefit plan to provide to the religious employer a health benefit plan that excludes coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs or devices that are contrary to the employer's religious tenets. Upon request, the insurer shall provide the requested health benefit plan. An insurer providing a health benefit plan requested by a religious employer pursuant to this section shall provide written notice to each person covered under the health benefit plan that prescription contraceptive drugs or devices are excluded from coverage pursuant to this section at the request of the employer. The notice shall appear, in not less than 10-point type, in the health benefit plan, application, and sales brochure for the health benefit plan. Nothing in this subsection authorizes a health benefit plan to exclude coverage for prescription drugs ordered by a health care provider with prescriptive authority for reasons other than contraceptive purposes, or for prescription contraception that is necessary to preserve the life or health of a person covered under the plan. As used in this subsection, the term "religious employer" means an entity for which all of the following are true:

(1) The entity is organized and operated for religious purposes and is tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

(2) The inculcation of religious values is one of the primary purposes of the entity.

(3) The entity employs primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the entity. (1999-231, s. 1; 1999-456, s. 15(a).)