State May Require Insurers to Cover Abortion

And now, some decidedly unterrible news in the ongoing gentleman's forum occurring inside America's ladyparts. A bill making its way through the Washington state legislature would require insurers to cover abortion services, like it would any other medical procedure.

Proponents of the HB 2330 say it's designed to assure seamless abortion coverage for women in Washington once the Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014. Under the Obama administration's plan, online insurance marketplaces will give individuals and small businesses the opportunity to purchase insurance plans once the Act takes effect. Certain key aspects of care must be covered on every state's exchange — hospitalization, emergency care, prescription drugs, maternity care, and mental health care. But other aspects of what will be covered by insurance offered on these state exchanges is up in the air. Many state lawmakers are eyeing this as an opportunity to bar companies that participate in their state's insurance exchanges from covering abortions. Washington's law states that any health plan that covers maternity care must also cover abortion care, which means that women in Washington won't have the Affordable Care Act come between them and the financial freedom to make the best reproductive decision for themselves.

People opposed to the plan say that covering abortions would cause the cost of insurance for everyone else, which is obviously bunk. You didn't see people who are suddenly very concerned about the cost of premiums complaining when Dick Cheney kept having to get his broken robot heart replaced with mutated monkey organs at great expense to the American taxpayer or when their coworker who spent a lifetime smoking needs costly lung cancer treatment. Besides, it doesn't take snobby college math to know that abortion is much less expensive than childbirth, and it's especially less expensive than covering another child. If opponents were seriously concerned with cost, they'd have to side with those in favor of mandatory abortion coverage for insurance plans.

Other opponents say it violates conscience laws, but HB 2330 has a built-in provision that would allow insurers to opt out of providing insurance on moral grounds.

The debate in Washington state may be a harbinger of future issues in many states as Day 1 of the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges approaches. An executive order by the President bars insurers that receive federal funds from covering abortion as "essential care" under the Affordable Care Act, but it's not clear whether or not states have the freedom to tack on an abortion care requirement. In the meantime, New York is considering similar measures.

So now it's a question of individual states deciding for themselves what health care is appropriate for its citizens versus the federal government's rule that abortions aren't to be covered on the insurance exchanges. The sound you just heard was the sound of dozens of Republican heads exploding.

State may become first to require insurers to pay for abortion [Seattle Times]