Anna Higgins

I received a call this week from representatives of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange in response to my article published by in which I outlined my journey to discover which plans under the D.C. health exchange exclude elective abortion coverage.

My previous calls to DC Health Link representatives yielded the same answer to my question – that every plan offered in the D.C. exchange covers elective abortion, even the Multi-State Plans (MSPs), one of which is required by the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) to exclude elective abortion coverage. Representatives were helpful, courteous and quite confident that all D.C. health care plans on the exchange were required to cover elective abortion coverage because it is considered an “essential benefit.”

I outlined my unsuccessful journey to find a pro-life plan on DC Health Link in an op-ed published in Townhallon Wednesday. Shortly after its publication, I received a call from the Director of Communications and Deputy Director of Policy for the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange, informing me that I was given completely incorrect information about abortion coverage on the exchange.

Both D.C. Health Benefits representatives were gracious and apologetic. They first apologized for the incorrect information and began to explain the actual policies regarding elective abortion coverage on the D.C. health exchange. Since I had been trying for weeks to get complete and accurate answers about elective abortion coverage in D.C., I was happy to have the matter rectified. During the calls I made to DC Health Link reps, I was originally told that elective abortion was considered an “essential benefit” in the D.C. exchange and, therefore, it was covered under all plans offered under the exchange. Each representative I spoke with confirmed that statement with their supervisors. I explained that MSPs were required by law to offer one plan that did not cover abortion and the response I was given was that all MSPs covered elective abortion. There was no place to get detailed information on the website to confirm or deny the answers I was given regarding elective abortion coverage, so I had to rely on the information given to me by DC Health Link representatives.

The D.C. Health Benefits representatives who called my office in response to my article revealing my findings about abortion coverage in D.C. informed me that, in fact, under both the 34 individual plans and the 267 D.C. “SHOP,” or small business exchange plans which Congress Members and staff are required to use, all plans offered by Aetna (private plans) as well as all MSP plans (which are offered by BlueCross BlueShield) exclude elective abortion coverage in compliance with ACA Section 1303.

Anna Higgins

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