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Mich. Lawmakers Propose Bill To Require Insurers To Offer Abortion Riders

September 25, 2014 — Michigan Democratic lawmakers this week are introducing a bill that would require all insurers in the state to offer riders for women who want abortion coverage, the Detroit Free Press reports (Gray, Detroit Free Press, 9/24).

Background

The state last year enacted a law that requires women who want abortion coverage to purchase a separate rider. The law bars women who are already pregnant from purchasing the riders, but it 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/17). Companies that self-insure -- which provide coverage for about three million state residents -- are not subject to the law (Detroit Free Press, 9/24).

Only seven of Michigan's 42 health insurers offer the abortion coverage riders (Lawler, MLive, 9/24). The riders cost between 12 cents to $3.84 annually (Detroit Free Press, 9/24). Further, state Rep. Jeff Irwin (D) said that the riders are currently only available through employer-based health plans, and not through any plans sold through the individual market.

State lawmakers have introduced legislation to repeal the law (MLive, 9/24). However, the repeal legislation is not likely to receive a hearing in the Republican-led state Legislature (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/17).

Comments

State Rep. Pam Faris (D) said, "I still oppose this law and would like to see it repealed. But we never told insurance companies that they had to sell [abortion riders]. Many of the women around the state who want to safeguard their health and buy the coverage they need simply can't" (Detroit Free Press, 9/24).

Irwin added, "I think that women should be able to choose what kind of health care they need and they should have available to them a full range of products to choose from" (MLive, 9/24).

Separately, Michigan Right To Life spokesperson Ed Rivet -- whose organization spearheaded the initiative to enact the law -- criticized the proposal, arguing that consumers who would like abortion coverage can "look for another insurance company if it's important" to them (Detroit Free Press, 9/24).