Insurers describe coverage of abortion in states with separate premiums

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).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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