Few insurance-covered abortions in Michigan as lawmakers consider restrictions

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David Eggert | The Associated Press

LANSING – If lawmakers voted to restrict insurance coverage for abortions in Michigan, it would affect a small number of abortions, as the vast majority are already paid out of pocket.

Of the estimated 23,000 abortions reported in the state last year – the second least in 30 years – health insurance covered 739, or 3.3%, according to state statistics.

Low-income women on Medicaid already have to pay out of pocket for abortions, except when their lives are in danger or in cases of rape or incest. Other women who have an abortion are uninsured or their insurance does not cover abortions. Others have plans that allow abortions, but they might not want their employer or family to find out.

As part of a right-to-life-backed initiative expected to soon be approved by the Republican-controlled legislature, employers and others are expected to purchase additional insurance known as a rider to cover nearly all abortions. Their main plan could only pay off if an abortion is necessary to save a woman’s life but not to protect her health or in cases of rape or incest.

The measure can become law without the signature of Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who vetoed similar legislation last year.

A push behind the legislation is preventing taxpayer-subsidized plans in Michigan’s new insurance market from covering abortions, an option for states under federal health care law. Yet the state says none of the 73 plans offered to individuals cover elective or voluntary abortions. Three of the 68 small employer plans are sold and sold by a single insurer – United Healthcare Life Insurance Co. – said Caleb Buhs, spokesperson for the Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

The initiative will therefore have a greater practical effect on private plans sold off the exchange.

Under this measure, employers prevented from covering abortions in their main plans could purchase optional additional abortion coverage if they notify all employees, including telling them that the abortion insurance can be used by an individual. charge without notice to employee. Insurers and HMOs would not be required to offer riders for abortion.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports the right to abortion, most Americans with employer-sponsored insurance likely have abortion coverage, although the surveys used to provide the estimate are flawed.

What is not clear is to what extent the legislation would impact businesses and insurance companies.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the state’s dominant insurer, sells plans that cover abortion and plans that don’t, spokeswoman Stephanie Beres said.

“It’s really a case-by-case basis of the decisions that are made, with each client making their own decision,” she said.

The Michigan Association of Health Plans, which represents Blue Cross’s competitors, says base plans typically do not include abortion and are typically added to endorsements which can also include rehabilitation, mental health and d ‘other services.

“Each plan decides its own offers, in a competitive atmosphere,” said MAHP spokesperson Dave Waymire.

Right to Life lobbyist Ed Rivet said most plans with maternity coverage typically include abortion, and the organization has had to apply for a “negative” endorsement from Blue Cross for years to remove it. Right to Life Employee Health Plan abortion. Federal health law now requires maternity care to be included in plans offered to people who buy their own insurance or receive it from small businesses.

United Healthcare may have to collect two payments, one for abortion coverage and another for the remainder of the premium, and separate the funds into separate accounts. This is to ensure that no tax subsidy is used to pay for most abortions, as stated in the health law. Federal law also states that abortion jumpers sold through an exchange cannot cost less than $ 1 per month.

United Healthcare’s exchange plans comply with federal and state laws, said a spokesperson who declined to elaborate on details of the plans’ abortion coverage.

Both sides of the controversial issue say the implementation of restrictions on abortion insurance is murky, so they are focusing on the political struggle for now – with supporters lobbying lawmakers to pass the initiative now and opponents urging them to leave it to a statewide vote next November.

“Women who use health insurance to cover pregnancy terminations are often women who are in their second trimester or who wanted pregnancies where something went horribly wrong,” said Senator Rebekah Warren, a Democrat from Ann Arbor.

“The biggest cost is frankly the hospital stay. To have someone who has a nursery waiting at home – a desired pregnancy, something has gone wrong – to have to face the fact that they might having to pay $ 10,000 or $ 12,000 for surgery that they never even looked for is really despicable, ”she said. “We would tell women you have to go gambling or you have to buy rape insurance for yourself or your daughter.”

But Rebecca Kiessling, a Rochester Hills anti-abortion activist who was conceived because of rape, has accused abortion rights advocates of wanting her dead, and others like her. She said her birth mother, after being assaulted by a serial rapist, tried to get two abortions but changed her mind because it was illegal.

“No child deserves to be punished for his father’s crimes.… I owe my life to the law which is there to protect me,” she said.


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