Obamacare and Abortion

by Genevieve C. Plaster & Arina O. Grossu

Americans are often forced to pay for abortion coverage they do not want.

With just days remaining before the deadline to enroll in a health-insurance plan under Obamacare, Americans who have not yet done so will be hurrying to finish researching their best options for themselves and their families. For many, this research will include the question of whether a plan covers elective abortion. And this is indeed a critical question for many reasons, not the least of which is that enrollment in a plan that covers it would require members to pay a separate monthly abortion surcharge.

Yet — as is well documented by now (check here and here) — ascertaining the abortion policy for plans on the Obamacare exchanges has been anything but a walk in the park. To assist Americans in navigating through the complete lack of transparency from the Obama administration, the Charlotte Lozier Institute and the Family Research Council jointly created ObamacareAbortion.com in November of 2014 to share their findings on plans in each state.

The following is a summary of new findings, as the website is constantly being updated.

For California in 2014, the Government Accountability Office report shows that Anthem Blue Cross’s Multi-State Plans (MSPs) did not cover elective abortion. California, however, has an abortion mandate that forces every insurance carrier to cover elective abortion — except the four MSP plans. In 2015, Anthem Blue Cross Combined Evidence of Coverage and Disclosure Forms for each of the four MSP plans show that these MSPs continue not to cover elective abortion. 

For Connecticut in 2014, there were no plans on the state-based AccessHealthCT that excluded elective abortion. For 2015, four of six new MSPs provided by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and HealthyCT exclude elective abortion. Additionally, the private carrier ConnectiCare is offering a new health plan (Bronze Select POS HSA) that excludes elective abortion.

For Maryland in 2014, Evergreen Health Cooperative excluded elective abortion from all individual Qualified Health Plans sold on the state-based Maryland Health Connect. However, the 2015 Individual Plan Agreement e-mailed by a company representative on February 6 states: “Services are covered for health services and associated expenses for surgical, non-surgical or drug-induced pregnancy termination.” The representative confirmed in writing that this includes elective abortion. The plan document that contains information about abortion coverage does not appear to be available to the general public on Evergreen’s website nor is it linked to from the Maryland exchange.

In 2015, Assurant Health joined the Montana marketplace. It does not offer any information about abortion coverage on its website, nor does it offer any way for non-members to contact it except by phone. Its sales representative said that all “non-spontaneous abortions” (i.e., what we think of as abortions, as opposed to miscarriages) are excluded from coverage. He would not provide a way to view the document, nor would he quote the passage in question, saying that the document was for “internal view only.”

In 2014, there were no plans covering elective abortion on the New Hampshire exchange. With the addition of three new carriers offering a total of 25 new plans that all cover elective abortion, 61 percent of New Hampshire exchange plans now cover elective abortion.

For New Mexico in 2014, Presbyterian Health Plan, Inc., excluded elective abortion from all its exchange plans; however, its 2015 Subscriber Agreements say that it now covers “elective abortions up to 24 weeks.”

When Moda Health Plan on the Oregon exchange confirmed that in 2015 all of its plans cover elective abortion, it added, “This is part of Obamacare.” Health Republic Insurance states in its Summary of Benefits and Coverage for all plans that “all termination of pregnancy [abortion] services provided by a licensed provider, including those for which federal funding is prohibited, are covered by this plan” (example). Kaiser Permanente would not provide plan documentation, but it confirmed that elective abortion is covered by all its individual plans. It then gave us information to get a “referral” from two local abortion businesses.

In 2014, Washington state’s Group Health Cooperative excluded elective abortion in individual Qualified Health Plans on the state-based WashingtonHealthplanfinder. According to each plan’s 2015 Summary of Benefits and Coverage, however, the plans now all cover “voluntary termination of pregnancy.”

Let’s not forget that pro-life Americans in four states (Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont) still have no choice if they are looking for a subsidized marketplace plan that excludes elective abortion. It’s also important to remember that in a total of nine states, 90 percent or more of the available plans cover elective abortion. They are: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Consumers should be especially aware of the difficulty that continues to exist in trying to get straight information. For example, in Hawaii in 2015, the state exchange advised us to contact the issuers directly on the question of elective-abortion coverage because it didn’t “have that amount of detail.” When we called Kaiser Permanente, the representative claimed that the company covered only “medically necessary procedures in some cases but not elective abortions,” but did not provide any documentation. Hawaii Medical Service Association likewise confirmed that it does cover elective abortion, but did not provide any documentation either. A sales representative redirected us back to Hawaii Health Connector, which had originally directed us to the individual companies; then the representative insisted that the information is available online (which is not the case).

Contrary to the claim of groups whose dynasties were built on abortion and whose fortunes depend on abortion, abortion is not health care. The tide has been and is still changing, so that more Americans (even those who identify themselves as “pro-choice”) recognize that abortion does more harm than good. Relatedly, more Americans than ever since 2001 are in favor of broader restrictions on abortion. If consumers find that they have mistakenly enrolled in a plan that covers elective abortion, they may be too late to switch to a new plan by tomorrow’s deadline.

The time is ripe for our nation to change its direction, too, so that it protects the conscience rights of its citizens as well as protecting the most vulnerable among us. The House was right to pass HR-7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The Senate should do the same.

— Genevieve C. Plaster is a research assistant for the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Arina O. Grossu is the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council.