Think You’re Covered? Think Again.
by Alicia Gay, ACLU Liberty Center
If you were faced with the decision of having an abortion, would your health insurance cover it? This is a question that many women have probably never considered. It’s a health care procedure that most people just don’t plan ahead for. Well, if you happen to be covered under your employer’s health plan, it’s likely that you do have at least some coverage. For now. Unfortunately, politicians across the country have been busy trying to take away that coverage.
Since 2010, 13 states have passed laws prohibiting some or all insurance plans from covering abortion care. Most Americans with employer-based heath insurance currently have coverage for abortion care. In fact we know that 87 percent of typical employer-based insurance policies cover medically necessary or appropriate abortions (as of 2002).
As a result of federal health care reform, states are starting to establish new insurance exchanges where individuals and small businesses will be able to buy health insurance starting in 2014. In several states, lawmakers are singling out abortion and prohibiting insurance companies from including abortion coverage in their policies. The trend is fast-moving and startling: since 2010, four states passed bans on abortion coverage in all comprehensive insurance policies, and another nine banned coverage in their soon-to-be-active exchanges.
Unfortunately, for years, laws have severely curtailed coverage for people insured through state or federal programs, so if you are a woman who works for the state or federal government, is serving in the military, or qualifies for low-income assistance, your access to a comprehensive health care plan is even more likely to be limited.
It's time to draw a line in the sand, and stop states from taking away insurance coverage for medical care that one in three women in the U.S. need.
The ACLU recently filed a case challenging a Kansas law that prohibits insurance companies from providing abortion coverage in their comprehensive plans. Kansas's law is the first to take effect, and our lawsuit is the first to take a step toward putting an end to this growing trend.
Kansas's law is extreme: it bans abortion coverage in comprehensive plans for the vast majority of abortions, including those necessary to protect a woman's health and for pregnancies resulting from rape/incest. As a result of the law, thousands of women in Kansas will lose their existing abortion coverage and will now have to pay out-of-pocket for this medical procedure.
We hope the court will stop the law and protect the ability of women in Kansas to make the best decision for themselves and their families. Such a ruling would also send a strong signal to politicians around the country who are poised to pass laws like Kansas's. This would support women to say: "Not so fast: Protect my health insurance, and don't take it away."
Help us stop this trend from spreading and tell us your story. And take a look at the abortion insurance bans in your states. The results might surprise you.
This post is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.