Will You Have toPay for Abortions in Your Health Plan? (en español)
By Richard M.
enough to confuse anyone. Some
supporters of the new health care law known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
say it will not spend taxpayer funds on abortion coverage. Yet we're hearing that Americans purchasing a
health plan on the "exchanges" now being set up in most states must pay a monthly
surcharge for elective abortions. What
are the facts?
the good news. Twenty-three states have
passed laws to exclude most abortions from all
plans on their health exchanges. In
these states Americans will be able to choose from a full range of health plans
without surgical abortions. (Tragically,
even these plans are covered by the Administration's "contraceptive mandate,"
which includes some drugs like Ella [ulipristal] that can cause an early
abortion. That mandate continues to be disputed
in Congress and the courts.) Even in the
other states, the ACA requires at least one
plan to exclude most abortions; other health plans may exclude them, at the option of the insurer.
bad news: Most secular insurers will probably cover elective abortions (unless
forbidden by state law), as they did before passage of the ACA, because they think
abortion is cheaper than childbirth (and far cheaper than live dependents who
may need care as they grow up). And the
ACA makes this situation worse, in four
the health plans that cover abortion on demand will receive federal tax subsidies when the enrollee meets
income requirements. So, in violation of
the policy in every other federal health program, your tax dollars will subsidize
plans that cover abortion.
if you find yourself in one of these abortion-including plans, you will be
required to pay a surcharge for other people's abortions. The charge will start at a minimum of $1 a
month and increase as needed. Congress
made this charge "separate" so it can claim that no taxpayer funds are going to abortions themselves. Yet insurers are forbidden by law to allow
anyone to opt out of the payment.
the ACA forbids the insurer to give you any special warning that your plan
covers abortions. The abortion coverage can only appear in the fine print along
with all other "services."
the ACA forbids the insurer to tell you how much you are paying for
abortions. It must charge you for the
full amount of your coverage (abortion plus everything else), then divide the
funds into separate accounts later. This
is designed to prevent you from refusing to write the separate check for
short, there will be tax subsidies for health plans that cover abortion, and
many Americans will be forced by law to pay premiums for abortion itself. Despite claims that there won't be "taxpayer
funding of abortion," the ACA expands federal support for abortion, and restricts
the freedom of those who object to paying for it.
if you don't have employer coverage or another group health plan, and must
choose an individual plan on your state exchange, what can you do? You can find out if you live in one of those
23 states. If not, you can find the one
plan in your state that can't cover elective abortions, and search out plans
that choose not to cover them. (Catholic
and other pro-life organizations may be able to help with this search.) You can urge your state and federal
legislators to fix this situation, so universal health care truly becomes the
life-affirming reality that Catholics and so many others have hoped for. And we can all pray that those in our
government, and the insurance industry, will be enlightened to see the
fundamental difference between healing and killing.
Mr. Doerflinger is Associate Director of
the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops.For more on the bishops'
pro-life activities, see www.usccb.org/prolife; to write to
Congress on conscience rights in health care see www.nchla.org.