LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A new Michigan law requires residents or businesses wanting health insurance coverage for abortions to buy extra coverage.
Once the measure takes effect Thursday, it will apply to new or renewed health plans. The state says seven of Michigan’s 45 insurers, including giant Blue Cross Blue Shield, will sell supplemental abortion policies to small and large employers.
Democrats and abortion-rights advocates fiercely opposed the legislation when it was approved by the Republican-led Legislature in December. But threats of a referendum or other ballot initiative haven’t materialized.
A thrust behind the abortion law is keeping taxpayer-subsidized plans on Michigan’s new insurance marketplace from covering abortions, an option for states under the federal health care law. But the measure also applies to employer plans and coverage sold to individuals outside the exchange.
Of the roughly 23,000 reported abortions in Michigan last year – the second-fewest in 30 years – health insurance covered 739, or 3.3 percent, according to state statistics.
Low-income women on Medicaid already must pay out of pocket for abortions, except when their life is at risk or in cases of rape or incest. Other women may not have insurance that covers abortions or they don’t want their employer or family to find out they’re having the procedure.
Michigan’s law won approval — 62-47 in the House and 27-11 in the Senate, almost entirely along party lines — after emotional debate on the chamber floors, which included Democratic female legislators telling personal stories in opposition to what they called “rape insurance” legislation that is among the most misogynistic they have seen.
With Michigan’s move, 24 states now restrict abortion coverage in plans offered through their insurance exchanges. But the state says none of the 73 plans being offered to individuals covers what the industry calls elective abortions. Three of the 68 small employer plans do.
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