Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Largest Healthcare Provider on Maine's ACA Marketplace Drops Elective Abortion Coverage

NPR (Oct. 29, 2016): Maine Insurance Co-op Drops Coverage for Elective Abortion Services, by Patty Wight:

Community Health  Options, the largest healthcare provider on Maine's Affordable Care Act online marketplace, has discontinued coverage of elective abortion services.  The insurance co-op claims that it dropped coverage to help make up for $31 million deficit.  Because elective abortions aren't defined as an "essential health benefit" providers are not required to include them in ACA insurance plans. Community Health Options also dropped adult vision care, another benefit that is not deemed essential.

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood was skeptical that dropping abortion coverage would make a big difference in the co-op's bottom line. The average cost of a first trimester abortion is $550 and only 55 women used the benefit last year.

Abortion is the only health service that states are explicitly allowed to ban from ACA exchange policies.  According to the Kaiser Foundation, 25 states ban abortion coverage, and "six of the remaining states that have no ban on abortion coverage did not have any plans that offered coverage in 2016."  Even though Maine doesn't ban marketplace coverage, Community Health Options' decision will negatively impact women's access to coverage in the state.



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