The Washington Post
explores the use of riders on health insurance policies to cover abortion, a proposal that has sparked controversy in the national health overhaul debate. "In North Dakota, where insurers can cover abortions if customers pay a separate premium, the state's largest provider says it sells no abortion policies because no one has asked to buy one," The Post reports. "Amid a high-stakes debate over abortion that could determine the fate of President Obama's health-care initiative, North Dakota's law offers a test because it is much like the language favored by antiabortion lawmakers on Capitol Hill, notably Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). ... Denise Kolpack, vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, which covers about 80 percent of the North Dakota market" explains: 'We would be legally bound to provide an offering, but we have no groups that have requested it.'"
"In congressional discussions about health-care reform, the debate over how abortion would be treated has been fractious, particularly among Democrats. Stupak and others threaten to oppose a Senate bill that they say falls short of maintaining the three-decade-old ban on federal funding for abortion." The Post also notes: "In the five states where abortion coverage is prohibited except with a rider, it is unclear how customers who purchase group insurance, typically for their employees, learn about the abortion coverage option" (Slevin, 3/14).