Politics & Government
4:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Confusion over who's affected by Michigan's new abortion law

There’s a new law in Michigan, and insurance companies and their customers are trying to figure out who’s affected by it.

Starting March 13, 2014, women will be required to purchase additional insurance for abortion coverage. Insurance companies will not be allowed to provide the coverage as part of their normal plans.

But analysts say the new law does not affect some health care plans.

More from Chad Livengood and Gary Heilein in today’s Detroit News:

Confusion reigns about the law, said Rick Murdock, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, an industry group representing 16 health plans in the state except Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Self-insured employers, who pay directly for medical care for employees, are regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor and not subject to state rules, said Murdock, the office of Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger and some state officials.

Murdock said smaller firms — usually those with less than 150 to 200 workers — as well as companies that don’t self-fund their coverage and people buying private health insurance on their own are “fully exposed” to the law.

In 2008, insurance policies covered 1.8% of all abortions in the state. In 2012, that percentage ticked up to 3.3%.

That amounts to one in three individuals with group or government-sponsored health plans, according to Livengood and Heilein.

They go on to point out that because of the confusion, there are likely to be court battles over who this law applies to and who it does not:

“Doctors in this state will be pausing and saying: What is legal and what is not? Or, how do I bill for this?” said state Rep. Kate Segal, D-Battle Creek. “This will be litigated — that’s the bottom line.”

The News pulls data that shows a slight increase in the number of insurance-covered abortions from 2008 to 2012.

In 2008, insurance policies covered 1.8% of all abortions in the state. In 2012, that percentage ticked up to 3.3%.

Overall, abortions in Michigan have dropped dramatically in the last 30 years. This chart shows how the abortion rate has changed over time: