March 22, 2010

WHEN THE FACT OF A BILL BECOMES MORE IMPORTANT THAN ITS CONTENT:

Strict Abortion Rules Mean Fewer Insurers May Offer Coverage (LAURA MECKLER , 3/22/10, WSJ)

To sell a plan in the exchanges that covers abortion, insurers will have to collect two checks from customers—one to pay for the abortion coverage, and one to pay for everything else. They will have to keep the funds separate in order to assure that federal aid handed out to consumers doesn't subsidize the procedure, maintaining a long-standing federal principle.

Kristin Binns, a spokeswoman for insurer WellPoint Inc., said it could be "a little bit nightmarish" to offer the coverage because of the logistical challenges and because the company would have to create and market different products—one with abortion coverage and one without it. Ms. Binns added that the market for such coverage—women who think they may need an abortion someday—is essentially "non-existent."

Currently five states ban insurers from offering abortion as part of their comprehensive coverage, requiring customers to buy a rider. In one of these states, Kentucky, WellPoint is the market leader and Ms. Binns said the company is unaware of any individual or company that has opted for the coverage.

A January letter from Affinity Health Plan, an umbrella group that provides coverage to various associations, to a nonprofit health-care group questioned whether any insurers would be willing to offer coverage under the bill, because the related costs would "surely outweigh" the premium revenue.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 22, 2010 7:46 PM
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