Connecticut State Insurance Will Cover Abortion As ‘Essential’ Health Benefit

Connecticut residents who take part in their state’s health care plan will have access to full abortion services when the plan goes into effect in 2014, a state health panel decided last week.

The state’s decision means that elective abortions — all abortions, not just those in the case of health risks, rape or incest– count as an essential health service. This has already sparked debate in Connecticut, and will likely prompt more conversations about abortion services across the country. But the measure passed easily through Connecticut’s health board:

In Connecticut, every private health insurance plan already covers elective abortions, said Victoria Veltri, the state’s healthcare advocate. However, for this new essential benefits plan, the state must create a model — using the state employee plan, the federal employee plan or a private plan — for what is required to be covered. […]

Connecticut is ahead of others on making this decision, members of the state panel said Friday.

“It’s a matter of health. We wanted to protect a woman’s right to chose,” said Veltri. “I didn’t suspect that this would be an issue here.”

As states set up exchanges to comply with the Affordable Care Act, they will make similar choices about which services will be considered “essential” and therefore covered under the statewide plan.

Abortion services may seem contentious on the surface, but it is important for states to include. Women for whom an abortion is not affordable end up with the option of paying huge costs out of pocket for the procedure; some women even attempt dangerous self-induced abortions, leading to further health complications.

A lack of access to abortion services also tends to fall back on state residents anyway, through the costs of an unintended pregnancy.