March 11, 2014 — Beginning Thursday, private health plans in Michigan will be prohibited from including abortion coverage, the Battle Creek Enquirer reports (Knott Ahern, Battle Creek Enquirer, 3/8).
The state Legislature last year approved legislation that bans most abortion coverage in the state. The legislation does not apply when a woman's life is in danger or to Medicaid, which must cover abortion in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.
Individuals and employers will be permitted to purchase separate riders to cover abortion. However, the bill still prohibits the purchase of the riders if a woman already is pregnant, even if the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape. Further, employers will be able to choose whether to offer the riders in their policies, which might leave some women without the option of purchasing one (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/19/13).
No Insurers Offering Abortion Coverage Riders for Individual Policies
No insurers selling private health plans through the state's marketplace plan to offer the riders to new customers as of Thursday, according to the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services.
Insurers had through last month to inform the state whether they would offer the riders. DIFS spokesperson Caleb Buhs said seven insurers indicated that they would offer the riders, but only as part of employer-sponsored health plans.
In effect, that means that any Michigan resident purchasing an individual policy will be unable to obtain abortion coverage, according to the Enquirer.
State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said women are unaware that the riders are necessary for coverage offered through an employer and that those who do not obtain them could suffer emotionally and financially.
Whitmer said, "A woman in need of a medically necessary ... procedure will not even have insurance as an option, meaning she would be required to pay for the procedure entirely on her own with a cost often totaling in the tens of thousands of dollars." That could include "a woman with a wanted pregnancy who is forced to terminate it because of health concerns and may now may face financial ruin for doing nothing more than trying to start a family," she added (Battle Creek Enquirer, 3/8).