Three million Americans who signed up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were to receive two separate monthly bills starting this summer.
A rule was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that requires insurers to create a separate invoice for premiums related to abortion services. Meaning, the public, including men, would receive one bill for abortion services and another for the rest of their health coverage.
Since 1976, it was illegal to provide federal funding for abortion. When former President Barack Obama presented his ACA plans, anti-abortion lawmakers were in dismay as the healthcare system would then illegally fund abortion. The ACA already required insurance companies to provide a separate bill for abortion services but 2014 reports found out that many of the insurers didn’t abide by this rule.
Now that the same rule would be implemented once again, health executives were hoping that the results would be much better. According to the Secretary of HHS, Alex Azar, providing two separate bills should solve the issue of illegal funding. He also added that the billing requirement reflected President Donald Trump’s plan to avoid abortion coverage funded by taxpayers.
The rule had met opposition from abortion rights groups; they argued that the billing requirement would only make it difficult to get coverage for abortion services. To make it clearer, Jacqueline Ayers, VP for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, explained how the rule would make legal abortion much harder to access. She said that the billing requirement won’t just require separate payments, but it would also separate abortion from other reproductive healthcare; the result — a huge barrier to abortion services.
Meanwhile, insurance companies also raised objections since the rule would lead to additional and laborious administrative work. In addition, they said that the rule could urge insurers to drop abortion coverage altogether and cause confusion to people when they receive two bills and don’t pay for both.
Other commenters also expressed their dismay regarding the billing requirement. According to them, health insurance should cover the entire range of reproductive healthcare including abortion. The rule might only take away the “full coverage” that enrollees want due to the troublesome requirements on the insurer’s side.