Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Abortion Coverage Ban in State Insurance Exchange Would Mean Fewer Options for Wisconsin Women, Private Companies

The Wisconsin Senate Committee on Public Health, Human Resources and Revenue held a hearing today on Senate Bill 92, a bill that would ban private insurance companies that provide abortion coverage from participating in future heath care exchanges promised by the Affordable Care Act (recent federal health care reform). The ACLU of Wisconsin was there to testify against the bill because we feel it interferes in women's private medical decisions by taking away insurance coverage for consumers who need comprehensive reproductive care. 

Currently, most insurance plans provide coverage of abortion along with other pregnancy related services, such as prenatal care, labor and delivery, and miscarriage care. This makes sense. Many things can happen in a pregnancy; insurance coverage for abortion allows every woman to get the health care she needs. 

But SB 92 would prohibit insurance companies in the exchange from providing comprehensive coverage. It would ban an insurance company from selling, and prevent an individual from buying, policies that cover abortion. 

Preventing insurance companies in the exchange from covering a legal medical procedure, just because some people are opposed to it, means a woman may be forced to continue a pregnancy because she cannot afford the high out-of-pocket costs to pay for an abortion. Or she may be forced to postpone abortion care while attempting to raise the necessary funds – a delay that can exacerbate both the costs and the health risks of the procedure. In other words, this bill just makes a difficult situation worse. At the very least, we should make sure that when a woman’s health and future is at stake, her insurance plan is able to cover what is often an expensive hospital procedure.

The bottom line for liberty and freedom is that medical decisions should be made by a woman, her family, and her doctor: not politicians. It is wrong for the government to take away insurance coverage for a legal medical procedure. This bill won’t do anything to reduce the demand for abortion. It will only increase the demand for private companies that do provide coverage. 

Particularly in these difficult times, while family planning programs face reduced funding for prevention of unplanned pregnancies, the legislature should focus on supporting women and families and not playing politics with women’s health. Politicians should get back to the issues that really matter to Wisconsinites and get out of the way of insurance companies that want to continue covering comprehensive health care for women.

If you oppose SB 92 as an ideologically driven, anti-abortion bill, please contact your state legislators and express your concerns. Find out more about how to contact your legislators on our Take Action page.