Anna Higgins

States around the country have now rolled out their health care exchange plans, which allow citizens without health insurance to choose private health care plans or Multi-State Plans (MSPs) in exchanges created by either the state or the federal government. Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, many pro-life leaders and others with moral objections to having elective abortion covered in their health care plans were concerned that they would be forced into purchasing health plans that cover abortion. It turns out their concerns were well-founded.

As a pro-life American and resident of Washington, D.C., I wanted to make sure that there was a plan available under the exchange that did not cover elective abortion. After making quite a few calls to insurance companies and D.C. health exchange representatives, it appears that there is no way to avoid buying a plan that covers elective abortion in D.C. This, despite the fact that the ACA stipulates at least one Multi-State Plan (MSP) offered in each state must not cover elective abortion (PPACA §1334(a)(6)).

There are three insurance companies offering private health care plans under the D.C. exchange – Care First, Blue Cross Blue Shield; Kaiser Permanente; and Aetna. There are four MSPs offered in D.C. MSPs are administered by the federal government through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). All four MSPs in D.C. are offered through Blue Cross Blue Shield.

When I called, the female representative at Blue Cross was very polite and helpful. I asked her to tell me which plans offered under the D.C. health exchange include elective abortion coverage. She replied that it “looks like they all do,” and transferred me to a representative who told me that all the Blue Cross plans offered under the D.C. exchange cover elective abortion. Just to clarify, I asked her whether my premiums would cover other people’s abortions, and she replied that my statement was correct.

Next, I contacted Kaiser Permanente, where a representative assured me that abortion is covered under all individual and family plans offered in the D.C. exchange. I then contacted Aetna, the final carrier under the D.C. exchange, and was happy to hear from a representative that Aetna plans do not cover abortion. That relief, however, was short lived.

Anna Higgins

Anna Higgins, J.D., is director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.