The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), proposed a new abortion restriction under the Affordable Care Act in their “2020 Payment Notice” that is meant to deter insurers from covering abortion services, requiring insurance companies that have plans covering non-Hyde abortions to also have at least one matching plan that does not cover these abortions. Non-Hyde abortions are abortions for pregnancies that are not a result of rape or incest and do not threaten the mother’s life.
The new abortion coverage requirement in the 300-paged proposal would disincentivize insurance companies from covering abortion, resulting in an increase of out-of-pocket costs for women who seek to have an abortion. The increase in out-of-pocket costs could create a significant obstacle for women who cannot afford to obtain an abortion, limiting women’s access to their necessary healthcare.
The new abortion coverage proposal comes after several proposed anti-choice rules in November from the Trump Administration. One of these rules allowed religious and moral exemption for nonprofits and some businesses from ACA’s birth control benefit. In addition, the Trump Administration also proposed a requirement for insurance companies to separately bill customers and collect payments for abortion services. This rule would mean that healthcare providers would need to send completely separate bills, one bill for abortion services only and another bill for all other healthcare services. Experts believe that this rule could burden consumers and create confusion.
Several state legislatures already have similar bans on insurance coverage of abortion services. 11 states have laws that restrict abortion coverage in all private insurance plans in the state, with eight of those states only allowing exception for life endangerment of the mother. Abortion coverage is already highly restrictive as states that do allow abortion coverage may not even have plans that include abortion coverage.
Media Resources: Rewire.News 1/18/19; Mic 11/9/18; Guttmacher Institute 6/6/18