Posts Tagged - ‘abortion coverage’

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Oklahoma Gov. Vetoes Health Insurance Exchange Abortion Ban

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Image: adamr.stone under CC 3.0

In Oklahoma, conservative legislators have tried to prevent plans in the upcoming health insurance exchanges (set to launch in 2014) from offering abortion coverage in any of their plans in all but the strictest circumstances (to protect the life of the mother, rape, or incest). Several other states have done the same thing in the advent of healthcare reform, but the Oklahoma bill goes further by attempting to ban coverage in any policy sold in the state, whether or not it is part of the subsidized exchanges.

Democratic Governor Brad Henry vetoed the bill. Although abortion coverage would continue to be available through supplemental health insurance plans, that has little practical use–very few people plan in advance that they will terminate a pregnancy.

According to Henry, the bill becoming law would create an expensive legal headache for the state, as well as unfairly penalizing women who fail to report a crime in time. However, the national healthcare reform law allows states to create their own additional regulations on the exchange markets, so removing abortion services from Oklahoma health insurance options would probably be legal.

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State Health Insurance Exchanges Differ On Abortion Coverage

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

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National healthcare reform managed to come up with a compromise on the issue of abortion: in keeping with the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funds from being used for the procedure, insurance subsidies cannot be used to pay for it. However, people are allowed to buy a health insurance plan that includes it if they write two checks–the second check coming solely from private money, with the funds being separated through generally accepted accounting principles. Many people on both sides of the issue are skeptical about this convoluted solution, but it passed.

Each state’s responsibility for affordable health insurance exchanges is a different matter. A provision in the law allows states to retain the right to prohibit coverage of abortion outside certain limited circumstances (the mother’s life is endangered, rape, incest). Several states already have such regulations, and others are likely to enact them.

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If You Want Abortion Coverage, Pay Two Health Insurance Premiums

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

(Image: internets dairy under CC 3.0)

In some ways, healthcare reform will make buying health insurance plans easier. However, if you’re a woman who chooses to have abortion coverage, it will be more complicated, starting in 2014. You’ll have to write two checks to your health insurance company every month!

Why? It’s a matter of compromise between President Obama and pro-life Democrats, such as Bart Stupak. Federal law forbids any federal funding of the procedure through the Hyde Amendment. Health insurance reform includes federal subsidies that will help lower- and middle-class individuals buy affordable health insurance. Due to the law, that federal money cannot go towards elective abortion coverage.

While the total health insurance premium won’t be significantly higher, it will have to be split in two portions for payment. The predominant portion will be partially subsidized. The smaller portion, which could be as little as $1, will be set aside for abortion benefits. That portion will be solely funded by private money. Pro-choice advocates fear that the complex auditing process required will discourage health plans from covering the procedure, while some pro-life advocates believe the accounting procedures don’t go far enough to prevent federal money from going towards it.

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Nuns Support Health Insurance Reform?

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

(Image: Zef Delgadillo under CC 3.0)

Yesterday, a coalition of Catholic nuns threw their hat into the healthcare reform ring, following the lead of the Catholic Health Association. Their recent letter to Congress expresses their support for the Democratic-led health insurance legislation. This is in contrast to the Coalition of Catholic Bishops, which opposes it.

To them, their pro-life philosophy is a comprehensive world view that extends beyond solely preventing abortion. The sisters feel that the significant population of people suffering–some even dying–as a result of lack of access to affordable health insurance is a social justice issue that must be dealt with, even if the political mechanisms are imperfect.

According to their reading of the Senate bill, it does not provide federal funding for the procedure (the subsidies for health insurance not apply to the portion of those plans that offer abortion; the money would be separated from personal funds used for that part). The bishops don’t agree with that interpretation, which is central to their opposition.

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