This important preventive-care provision of health-care reform means that the near universal use of birth control by women - including Catholics - for the first time will be assured by law.
The policy will have far-reaching health, economic, and social benefits - perhaps even helping to reduce the number of abortions.
When the federal Institute of Medicine last summer recommended that HHS assure access to affordable birth control, it noted that half of all pregnancies are unplanned and that more than a third of these end in abortion.
Since unplanned pregnancies sometimes result in delayed prenatal care, or risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking, the agency said there's an added risk of premature and low-weight births, and these infants are less likely to get the benefits of being breast-fed.
For a woman whose pregnancy results in becoming a single parent, the economic challenges of rearing a child are well-documented, along with heated debate over whether their kids fare less well.
So, wider access to birth control drugs without additional insurance co-pays could mean the nation does a better job of reducing unplanned pregnancies, and the drugs also aid in treating other women's reproductive conditions and other health concerns.
Despite the vocal critics, the policy promises to be overwhelmingly popular, with polls showing that three-quarters of American women, including Catholics, support birth-control coverage.
That said, the ruling will require some workplaces - notably church-run hospitals, charities, and schools - to provide birth-control coverage that they may not provide now on ideological grounds. But the Obama administration rightly concluded that employees at these institutions who do not share that view shouldn't be denied this health service.
The ruling preserves carefully the right of churches and church associations to use an exemption from the mandate. But the hope is that few will do so, since the benefits of careful family planning to their female employees are undisputed. And with or without paid coverage, the use of contraception will continue to be mainstream.