A new rule finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services requires that in June, three million Americans who bought insurance through state exchanges under Obamacare — including men — will begin receiving a separate monthly bill for abortion coverage under their plan.
What are the details?
The change means that Obamacare enrollees will pay two separate monthly bills: one for the insured's general insurance premium, and another specifically for their carved-out "payment for an amount equal to the actuarial value of the coverage for abortions for which public funding is prohibited."
HHS Secretary Alex Azar explained in a statement, "The separate billing requirement fulfills Congress' intent and reflects President Trump's strong commitment to preventing taxpayer funding of abortion coverage."
The Washington Post pointed out that when former President Barack Obama was presenting plans for his signature Affordable Care Act, "antiabortion lawmakers protested that it would illegally fund abortion, despite his assurances otherwise, through tax breaks and government subsidies."
Pro-life groups favor the Trump administration's rule, and pro-choice groups are against it.
"Consumers have a right to know if they are paying for elective abortion," U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops official Archbishop Joseph Naumann said of the new policy. "While the Affordable Care Act still allows government-subsidized plans to cover abortion, at least with this rule, Americans can now see and try to avoid complicity by choosing plans consistent with their consciences."
The Post reported that "abortion rights groups argued that it would create stigma around abortion and make it more difficult for women to get insurance coverage for abortion."
Planned Parenthood Action Fund blog reported that the new HHS rule "makes it easier for anti-abortion consumers to pick and choose only those parts of a plan with abortion coverage that they want to pay for. It tells insurers the Trump administration will do nothing to stop them from letting consumers opt out of paying their fair share of the abortion coverage premium, after buying a plan that includes abortion coverage."
Opponents also fear the cost of implementing separate billing — such as changing software systems — could lead insurers to stop offering coverage for abortion services altogether.
According to the Daily Mail, HHS "has estimated that the total cost to insurers will actually reach more than $541 million." The outlet noted, "this cost is expected to filter down to consumers in some form or another."