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State Motion to Defend and Promote Abortion Entry in State-Regulated Well being Plans


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By Rachel Swindle and Karen Davenport

Within the 2022 determination Dobbs v. Jackson Ladies’s Well being Group, the U.S. Supreme Court docket reversed the long-standing precedent of Roe v. Wade, taking away a beforehand acknowledged constitutional proper to abortion. Dobbs didn’t outlaw abortion providers, however the determination permits states to impose restrictions and bans beforehand deemed unconstitutional. Over the past yr, a number of states have restricted abortion entry or prohibited abortion providers completely. Different states have taken steps to protect abortion entry, corresponding to enshrining abortion rights in state constitutions. Along with defending the supply of abortion care, states can pursue focused insurance policies to increase entry to abortion providers in state-regulated medical health insurance plans.

Abortion Utilization, Price, and Protection At present


Abortion is a standard medical process; in response to the latest evaluation by the Guttmacher Institute, almost one in 4 girls will terminate a being pregnant previous to age 45. For comparability, one in 4 girls will obtain a coronary coronary heart illness analysis whereas one in eight girls might be recognized with breast most cancers of their lifetime.

Price and Protection

Abortion prices fluctuate considerably based mostly on the kind of abortion (treatment or procedural), setting (free-standing clinic or hospital), trimester of being pregnant, and whether or not the affected person pays for the process themselves or via their medical health insurance. In 2020, median prices for self-pay sufferers had been $560 for first trimester treatment abortions, $575 for first trimester procedural abortions, and $895 for abortions within the second trimester. However prices may be a lot greater—typically 1000’s of {dollars}—for individuals who want hospital-based care to terminate a being pregnant.

Even insured sufferers might face these prices. A survey of abortion sufferers in non-hospital settings from 2021­–2022 discovered 11.4 % of respondents used non-public insurance coverage to pay for abortion care though a 3rd of respondents had non-public protection. In an earlier examine, the most typical cause privately insured sufferers cited for not utilizing their well being plan to pay for abortion care was that the process was not lined. In an extra indication that privately insured sufferers might not have protection for abortion care, KFF’s 2019 Employer Well being Profit Survey decided that 10 % of employees with employer-sponsored medical health insurance work for corporations that requested their well being plan or third-party administrator to exclude protection for abortion care in some or all circumstances. Customers lined via the Reasonably priced Care Act (ACA) Market additionally face insurance-related boundaries to abortion care. In 2020, shoppers in 33 states couldn’t entry a Certified Well being Plan (QHP) on the ACA Market that lined abortion.

States Can Defend and Promote Abortion Entry Inside State-Regulated Plans

States stay the first regulators of personal medical health insurance. Congress precluded the ACA from pre-empting state legal guidelines associated to abortion protection, aside from an current exemption for “self-funded” employer well being plans. Accordingly, states can promote abortion entry for residents enrolled in well being plans offered on the ACA Market in addition to “absolutely insured” employer plans by pursuing various coverage modifications.

Requiring State-regulated Plans to Cowl Abortion

States can require QHPs and different state-regulated well being plans to cowl abortions. In response to the Guttmacher Institute, eight states at present require non-public well being plans to cowl abortion providers. Eleven states prohibit abortion protection in all state-regulated plans, usually by limiting protection to circumstances corresponding to “life endangerment,” whereas one other 14 states particularly prohibit or prohibit abortion protection in QHPs alone. The remaining states—corresponding to Connecticut and Minnesota—neither require nor prohibit state-regulated plans from overlaying abortion. Among the many states that require state-regulated non-public medical health insurance merchandise to cowl abortion providers, some, corresponding to Oregon, have required protection for years, whereas others, corresponding to Massachusetts, have solely just lately codified this requirement. Most just lately, New Jersey’s Division of Banking Insurance coverage introduced the adoption of rules extending the abortion protection requirement for state-regulated particular person and small group market plans, which had been in place because the starting of this yr, to the absolutely insured massive group market within the state.

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Defending Privately Insured Customers from Out-of-Pocket Prices

States also can take steps to scale back or take away out-of-pocket prices related to abortion care. In response to the Guttmacher Institute, all states mandating abortion protection in state-regulated plans additionally prohibit insurers from charging price sharing for abortion care, however the scope of safety varies by state. For instance, whereas Oregon prohibits state-regulated plans from imposing any price sharing on abortion care, New York solely bans price sharing for “in-network abortions” (permitting insurers to cost out-of-network price sharing) and permits high-deductible well being plans to use the deductible to abortion providers. Analysis has discovered important regional variation in whether or not abortion suppliers settle for insurance coverage, making restrictions on out-of-network price sharing necessities a crucial client safety in some states.

Limiting or Eradicating Boundaries to Look after Enrollees

To additional enhance abortion entry, states can restrict or prohibit profit designs and plan practices that pose obstacles for enrollees looking for abortion care. Earlier analyses have discovered that QHPs impose a spread of limits on abortion protection, corresponding to annual and lifelong limits on the variety of abortions a member might obtain, restrictions on the kind of abortion providers they cowl (i.e., procedural versus treatment abortion), or limitations based mostly on the period of being pregnant. In most states, non-public well being plans also can apply utilization administration methods to abortion care, corresponding to prior authorization or referral necessities. Some states have restricted or banned sure utilization administration practices. For instance, as of 2023, California prohibits state-regulated plans from making use of lifetime or annual limits, prior authorization, or referral necessities to abortion care. State insurance coverage regulators, corresponding to these in Massachusetts and California, have strengthened these statutory restrictions via implementation and enforcement actions.

Facilitating Simpler Market Enrollment

When Market plans cowl abortion—whether or not in response to a state profit mandate or in states the place they’re allowed however not required to cowl abortion providers—federal legislation prohibits using federal funds to pay for abortion protection past the circumstances of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Which means that federally funded premium subsidies accessible to Market enrollees can not cowl the portion of the premium used to insure for prices associated to most abortion care. As well as, insurers providing QHPs should segregate premium funds for abortion protection from funds for protection of all different providers, and so they might individually itemize or individually invoice premiums associated to abortion protection. Though the portion of Market premiums attributable to abortion providers in plans that cowl abortion is small—solely round $1—nominal premiums can scale back enrollment and retention in well being plans.

States can enact insurance policies to offset this price and scale back the executive burden of enrolling in Market plans. California, for instance, provides a $1 per member per thirty days premium subsidy to cowl the portion of the premium attributable to abortion providers. Maryland supplies the same premium subsidy for a narrower inhabitants—Market enrollees between the ages of 18 and 35 who’re eligible for a 0 % premium contribution beneath the state’s Younger Grownup Subsidy Program.


When the Supreme Court docket issued the Dobbs determination, they allowed states to find out abortion coverage. Whereas many states have wielded this energy to ban or prohibit abortion, others have taken the chance to guard and enhance entry to this fundamental and essential well being care service, together with via their function as main regulators of personal insurance coverage. These protections embrace profit mandates, prohibiting or limiting price sharing for abortion providers, stopping restrictive profit design and utilization administration methods, and overlaying the portion of Market premiums associated to abortion protection. With public assist for abortion rights at an all-time excessive, state policymakers have a possibility to guard and enhance abortion protection for residents enrolled in state-regulated well being plans.