Blog Post

Obamacare's Abortion Coverage Runaround

HHS mandateAccording to a a research assistant at the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), even 10 months after the debut of Obamacare it's still next to impossible to get a straight answer on whether a policy covers elective abortion.

In an article appearing on National Review Online, CLI's Genevieve C. Plaster says that unlike the "pervasive, confused silence" on the issue of elective abortion coverage that was prevalent at the beginning of the Obamacare rollout, insurance companies are now freely answering the question of whether or not their plans cover elective abortion. The only problem is that the answer depends on who you speak with.

The following examples represent "exceptional instances of readily given and yet inconsistent replies to the question of whether elective abortion is covered," Plaster writes.

United Healthcare told Plaster they do - and do not - cover abortions. On July 7, an agent said none of their plans cover elective abortion; on July 22, she was told that all of their plans cover abortion and permit "one procedure per member per calendar year."

Empire BlueCross Blue Shield of New York was no less ambiguous. Plaster was told by two different agents that all of their plans cover elective abortion, including multi-state plans (known as MSPs) even though MSPs are required by law to offer at least one plan that does not cover abortion. However, another person told her that they are following the law and are offering at least one plan without abortion. Plaster sent a letter requesting clarification and has yet to receive it.

The response from plans in Vermont was even more chaotic. "In sum: No, none do; no, you need authorization; yes, all do, and you do not need authorization; yes, all do again; sorry, really, none do." A live chat agent told CLI on July 16 that elective abortion is not covered, but when she asked for documentation to prove this, they disconnected the call.

Independent Health told CLI they couldn't email any specific plan documents because “so many [plan] files were transferred to the exchange,” and the company website now has “limited information.”

Emblem Health told her plan documents are "legal documents" and therefore "not available to be mailed to non-members."

Capital District Physician's Health Plan and Healthfirst New York agreed to send documentation by regular mail. When it was received, there was no information on whether or not the plan covered abortion.

"The bottom line? The ongoing clamor for transparency in health-insurance exchanges under Obamacare is fully warranted," Plaster writes. "Of the 300-plus plans offered by the 18 insurance companies on New York’s individual marketplace that CLI inspected, virtually no company listed any “interruption of pregnancy” information in its Summary of Benefits and Coverage. There was one exception: the Catholic-run Fidelis Care, which excludes it."

While a few companies do provide information about abortion coverage, this is only available in Member handbooks and guides which are not necessarily found with plan information - which means you have hunt for it - with some not making it available at all pre-purchase.

"If a woman’s 'right to choose' is so essential, why wouldn’t her 'choices' be clearly stated on each plan’s Summary of Benefits and Coverage?" Plaster asks. "Whether one identifies oneself as 'pro-life' or 'pro-choice,' this 'yes, no, maybe' guessing game about abortion coverage is utterly unacceptable."

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