Michigan state legislators are introducing a new bill that would require private health insurance companies to make “abortion riders” available to health care seekers.
The proposal is a far cry from reproductive justice advocates’ persistent call for integrated health coverage that includes coverage for comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion services. Last December, the Michigan state legislature approved a measure prohibiting insurance companies from offering abortion coverage in both public and private health plans, even in cases of rape or when a women’s health is endangered. The measure requires employers and individuals who want coverage of abortion to purchase a rider to supplement their insurance policy.
State Representative Pam Faris (D), State Senator Rebekah Warren (D) and State Representative Sarah Roberts (D) introduced the new compromise bill. Their bill would require every insurance plan to offer the rider.
“I still oppose this law and would like to see it repealed,” Faris said Wednesday when she was introducing the bill. “But we never told insurance companies that they had to sell it.”
Only 7 of 42 health insurance plans in the state of Michigan offer extra coverage for abortion services. Furthermore, these plans are offered to employers, not individual coverage seekers.
“This sexist and discriminatory law requires women to buy an extra insurance policy just to have comprehensive reproductive health care coverage, but does not require this separate policy to actually be sold,” Senator Warren said. “As a result, the majority of women in Michigan cannot get full coverage. That’s why we’re introducing legislation to require any company that offers health insurance to make this extra rider available.”
The state of Michigan is one of at least 24 states that ban most coverage for safe and legal abortion care. In June, two Michigan lawmakers introduced legislation to repeal the insurance restriction, but such an attempt isn’t expected to be successful in the current legislature.
Media Resources: Detroit Free Press 9/24/14; Office of State Representative Pam Faris, 9/24/14; Feminist Newswire 6/20/14, 12/12/13