Insurer stung by Missouri’s regressive abortion coverage ban

Insurance giant Aetna recently agreed to pay $4.5 million in fines for providing health insurance coverage in Missouri for a safe and legal health care procedure - abortion.

This seems odd, as abortion is a constitutionally protected legal health care procedure.

And Aetna provides insurance coverage for health care.

So what’s the problem?

Missouri law.

Women in Missouri are subject to a regressive state insurance coverage ban, a spin off of sorts from the federal Hyde Amendment that bars the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions except if a pregnancy arises from incest or rape. Missouri’s law, passed in 1983, requires that women buy optional insurance for elective abortion coverage. Aetna said it covered elective abortions for women who did not pay for additional insurance for those abortions.

Missouri is one of only 8 states with a ban on all private insurance coverage of abortion, including insurance offered in the exchange. Twenty-three states have exchange bans in the health insurance marketplaces.

By singling out abortion as something other than the legitimate medical procedure deserving of health insurance coverage that it is, Missouri is doubling down on an unjust system of health care where some women do not have the same access to health care as those who are more affluent. Missouri’s coverage ban hurts the women insurance should benefit most - women who have paid monthly premiums because the odds are they can't pay a lump sum cost when a health care need arises. 

Until the state’s ban on insurance coverage for abortion is lifted, Missouri is where health insurance companies get in trouble for providing coverage for health care only women need.

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