A new Michigan law requiring women to purchase add-on rider insurance if they want their health plan to cover abortion services went into effect yesterday.
The new law applies to private health plans including insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act and employers. Without the additional coverage, women will be forced to pay for procedures out-of-pocket.
However, very few insurers previously covered abortion care, and the current number is still low. According to the Department of Community Health statistics, only about 3 percent of the nearly 23,000 abortions performed in Michigan in 2012 were covered by insurance. Insurers that wished to provide the coverage this year needed to notify the state by last month. Only 7 said they would, as part of employer plans; therefore individuals wouldn’t be able to purchase coverage.
The new law has come under fire because it essentially asks women to anticipate whether or not they’ll need the coverage as the result of rape, incest, or even medically necessary D&C procedures. It has become known as the “rape insurance” law. Senate Majority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D – East Lansing) issued a plea last January, citing her own rape 20 years ago and imagining the effects of an unwanted pregnancy, but she and her supporters failed to get the law repealed.
“If that’s not a direct attack on women and our health to say insurance can’t cover this type of critically important reproductive care, I don’t know what is,” Whitmer said.