Health Reproductive Rights

New Report Shows Gaps in Coverage for Abortions in Employer Insurance Plans

Ten percent of people on employer-sponsored health insurance work at firms that have opted to exclude abortion coverage from its health plans, a Kaiser Family Foundation reported revealed on Tuesday.

As the most popular source of health insurance, employer-sponsored plans cover 153 million Americans. For more than 15 million people whose plans do not cover abortion, out-of-pocket costs for an abortion, which average $500 and can be up to thousands. This cost is prohibitive for a third of people on employer-sponsored plans.

The study randomly sampled more than 2,000 non-federal public and private employers and asked each firm if it asked its insurance provider to exclude abortion coverage from its plan. Of the firms that did not intentionally exclude abortion coverage, coverage may still be limited or non-existent. In 11 states, abortion coverage is banned for state-regulated private plans. In states where coverage is not banned, some employers place limits, such as gestational age or method or abortion, on when abortion is covered.

Additionally, the study does not include the 20 million federal employees and their dependents whose plans are restricted by the Hyde Amendment, which only allows federal funding for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Despite millions of Americans already missing abortion coverage in their health plans, that number can increase as Congress debates abortion coverage in its next coronavirus relief plan.

As nearly 27 million people have lost their employer-sponsored insurance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress is considering subsidizing the COBRA continuation. COBRA allows for unemployed workers to stay on their previous employer’s insurance plan by paying the full premium, which is often costly.

While Republicans are open to the proposal, they insist the relief bill must include the Hyde Amendment or another restriction to prevent federal money from going to abortions. Democrats oppose this idea.

If a relief bill passes with the Hyde Amendment, workers whose previous insurance covered abortion will lose that coverage. With abortion access already limited during the pandemic, creating new gaps in coverage will disproportionally affect low-income people’s access to reproductive care.

Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation 05/12/2020; Kaiser Family Foundation 05/13/2020; The Hill 05/13/2020

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