Missouri Rushes To Eliminate Abortion Coverage From New Health Insurance Exchanges

The new health care law prohibits women from using premium affordability tax credits or cost-sharing payments to pay for abortions but also reinforces states’ ability to prohibit insurers from providing any form of abortion coverage within the exchange. On Monday, before President Obama even signed the the Senate health care bill into law, a Missouri Senate committee voted 5-1 to advance a bill that would deny insurers the right to offer abortion coverage in any government exchange.

Missouri is one of only 5 states that already prohibits abortion from being included in private insurance packages and requires women to purchase a separate abortion rider. SB747 would deny women the right to purchase a rider within the exchanges:

Under current law, health insurance policies are barred from providing coverage for elective abortions except through optional riders. This act extends this prohibition to health insurance policies offered through any health insurance exchange established in this state or any federal health insurance exchange administered within this state. In addition, no health insurance exchange operating within this state may offer coverage for elective abortions through the purchase of an optional rider.

If the law passes the Senate and the House and is signed by Governor Jay Nixon (a Democrat with a mixed record on choice) women would only be able to purchase an abortion rider in the unsubsidized (but newly regulated!) individual health insurance market. Planned Parenthood lobbyist Michelle Trupiano tells the AP that it’s rare “for Missouri women to be able to purchase an insurance policy addition for abortion coverage. So they often pay the full cost of an abortion, which she said is about $500 for a first-semester pregnancy.” Should this bill become law, women in the exchanges, (particularly poorer women) would have “no options for abortion coverage.”