On Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a new rule that will require insurers through the Affordable Care Act marketplace to bill separately for abortion coverage. This administrative change could affect more than 3 million people with abortion coverage.
If an insurance plan through the ACA marketplace includes abortion coverage, the insurer will be required to bill two premium payments: one for the health care policy and another for the policy’s abortion coverage. Here’s the full rule from the Federal Register.
Advocates are worried that this could mean enrollees could have their coverage lapsed. Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that it’s a part of a larger plan to limit legal abortion. “This rule won’t just require separate payments, it further splits off abortion from other reproductive health care and puts up massive barriers to access,” Ayers said in a statement.
Beyond the separate abortion billing requirement, at least twice a year, 12 states and Washington, D.C., will be required to perform verifications on people enrolled to verify they’re eligible for ACA subsidies from an outside source. The billing requirement will go into effect on June 27, 2020 while other parts of the rule will begin in 60 days.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that the rule was to further the department’s duty as “good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Azar continued, saying the rule continues the administration’s goal of “preventing” public money going toward abortion: “When an exchange plan covers abortions for which public funding is prohibited by federal law, this rule requires that customers receive separate bills for that abortion coverage and for the rest of their insurance. Providing these separate bills is an essential step in implementing the Affordable Care Act’s bar on tax credits going toward coverage of abortions for which public funding is prohibited.”
A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found the rule is likely to “disrupt coverage for many consumers” with 3.1 million enrollees potentially impacted. The analysis found hat there are at least 2 million enrollees in the four states that require insurance plans to cover abortion care like California, Oregon, Washington, and New York. By comparison, 26 states prohibit Obamacare plans from covering abortion services.