Many Michigan Women Will Not Actually Be Able to Buy Abortion Insurance Riders


A controversial new Michigan law that prohibits private insurance from covering abortion care as a standard feature, including in cases of rape or incest, went into effect on Thursday. While the law allows insurance companies to offer abortion coverage as an optional rider, it turns out that no companies will offer those riders on the individual market.

Seven insurance companies will offer the riders through small- and large-group employer plans, so a woman could get abortion coverage if her employer, or that of a family member, happens to choose a plan that offers the riders. But employers must also inform all employees that they are offering such coverage, which could lead to awkwardly personal conversations about whether an employee wants to buy it. And for women whose employers don’t offer the coverage, or women buying insurance on the individual market, even that option isn’t available.

Some opponents have called these riders “rape insurance,” because even women who become pregnant from rape would need to have purchased the rider in advance of her rape to get coverage for an abortion. But women whose pregnancies threaten their health, if not necessarily their immediate life, would also be out of luck, state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) pointed out.

“A woman in need of a medically necessary D&C [dilation and curettage] procedure will not even have insurance as an option, meaning she would be required to pay for the procedure entirely on her own with a cost often totaling in the tens of thousands of dollars,” Whit­mer told the Detroit Free Press.

Whitmer made an impassioned plea against the bill on the senate floor late last year by recalling her own story of being raped, a plea that her colleagues in the heavily anti-choice legislature ignored. The law passed on a rare procedural maneuver that let the legislature push through, with no approval from the governor, a ballot initiative sponsored by Michigan Right to Life that had signatures from 3 percent of the state’s population.

Most customers won’t see an immediate effect, an insurance spokesman told MLive, because if a customer has coverage already, it won’t be stripped out until the policy renews, which is usually in September or October. But anyone trying to buy a new individual policy, while they may have had trouble getting one with abortion coverage before the ban, certainly won’t be able to do so now.

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  • rosie

    Where is the UN? Seriously. They agreed forced birth was against human rights. C’mon UN. You did right by the vatican and pedophilia, let’s see the same attitude for women of America.

  • Ramanusia

    When do the legal challenges to this idiocy begin?

    • Shan

      I’m not sure there will be much pushback against this. It’s too much like the Hyde Amendment. And there were already 8 other states where private insurance companies have been banned from providing abortion coverage, including the state I live in. There was an ACLU challenge against it, but it was dropped over a year ago. According to a NYT article at the time:

      “Women seeking abortions in Kansas need to buy the insurance rider or pay
      out of pocket if their insurance policies are new or were renewed after the law took effect in July 2011.

      “Before the law’s passage, companies constituting 70 percent of the insurance market share in Kansas included abortion coverage in comprehensive policies, the judge said.The cost for an abortion at a clinic ranges from $450 to $1,675, and hospital abortions can cost more than $10,000.”

      So if by chance you’re pregnant and find out (BEFORE the ban kicks in at 20wks) that your pregnancy is unviable, you can still have an abortion but your insurance won’t pay for it because it’s considered to be “elective” unless your life and/or health is threatened. Because I guess pregnancy and birth are just doddle, especially when you’ve known for months that you’re going to have a dead baby at the end of it.

      • Ramanusia

        That’s all until the plan renews, around the fall, when women will start being affected. That’s when the lawsuits will begin. (Hopefully.)

        There was a woman in Ohio who sued to be allowed to terminate when they wouldn’t allow her to because her fetus still had a heartbeat, but no chance at life. The same line of thinking killed that woman in Ireland.

        They just need a few more of these tragic cases (which they WILL get) and then the lawsuits may start. As it is now, on their face they defy logic and common sense and violate the constitution.

        • CT14

          Again, the War on Women will have casualties.

          • expect_resistance

            Sad but very true.

      • CT14

        Most deformities are discovered at the 20 week ultrasound. That’s when women who want the pregnancy find out bad things have happened.

        Less than 2% of abortions are done after 20 weeks, and they are to save the health and life of the mother. They are unexpected. They are by women who never thought they would have an abortion. They are very expensive.

        It’s EXACTLY the type of case you need insurance for.

    • fiona64

      It won’t happen until some woman dies and her family sues.

  • King Rat

    Well if you are poor, and you need a late term abortion for health reasons, too bad. You should have been a better incubator.

  • CT14

    Women will either die or go bankrupt because of this law. Pregnancies don’t always come out right, and women with wanted pregnancies sometimes either cannot carry to term or the fetus develops a condition incompatible with life outside the womb.

    Chances of septic conditions are high in these cases, and standard medical practice is to terminate the pregnancy to save the life and health of the mother. It is an expensive procedure, and it won’t be covered.

    So women, with wanted but failed pregnancies, will either have to pray that they deliver before they go septic or die without treatment. Federal law will require an emergency room to treat a pregnant woman in active labor and perhaps even if septicemia endangers her life, but it doesn’t require insurance to cover the procedure. So after losing a wanted child, the woman and her family will be hit with thousands of dollars of medical bills that should be covered as standard practice.

    All because tea party legislatures hate women. If they didn’t, they would have left in exceptions for the life of the mother. They didn’t, and the only reason for that is hate for any woman who fails to carry a healthy baby to term.

    The War on Women will have casualties.

  • fiona64

    While the law allows insurance companies to offer abortion coverage as an optional rider, it turns out that no companies will offer those riders on the individual market.

    Why do I hear Dana Carvey’s Church Lady character saying “Isn’t that conveeeeenient?”

  • red_zone

    So how long many women and families will needlessly suffer before the state government goes, ‘Oops’?

  • gabesgrandma1939

    It’s really amazing, these no regulation republicans for guns or corporations have yet to see a regulation that they do not like when it comes to women and their health and bodies.