More On The Stupak Amendment

Over the weekend, I described the consequences of the Stupak amendment as such:

If the Stupak amendment passes, uninsured women who get health care through the public option will have to pay out-of-pocket to get an abortion. And even if a woman uses her own money to buy an insurance plan from a private company through the exchange, she won’t be able to get a plan that covers abortion.

There’s some dispute, though, as to whether or not that’s accurate. The Wonk Room portrayed the consequences of the Stupak amendment as:

In addition to prohibiting direct government funding for abortion, it also prohibits public money from being spent on any plan that covers abortion even if paid for entirely with private premiums. Therefore, no plan that covers abortion services can operate in the Exchange unless its subscribers can afford to pay 100% of their premiums with no assistance from government “affordability credits.”

In other words, there’s a possibility that insurers will still be able to offer health insurance plans that cover abortion through the exchanges. But, for any woman to purchase one of those plans, she would have to pay for it entirely out-of-pocket.

Since the exchanges are designed to help provide uninsured/underinsured Americans with good, cheap health insurance–which most of them will be purchasing with the help of federal subsidies–it’s highly unlikely that anyone who goes through an exchangewill be able to afford to pay for health insurance entirely out-of pocket.

And if nobody using the exchanges can afford a plan that covers abortion, why would health insurance companies offer those plans? What company would sell a product that nobody could afford to buy?

So, while the amendment may not outright prohibit insurers from offering plans that cover abortion in the exchanges, it might as well; the results will be the same.

Others are claiming that the Stupak amendment isn’t too bad because women will be able to buy health insurance riders (private health insurance plans that cover nothing but abortion and are intended as supplements to more comprehensive insurance).

Of course, women would have to pay the entire cost of those riders out-of-pocket, meaning that a significant number of women won’t be able to afford them. In addition, it stands to reason that a number of other women won’t purchase riders because they never anticipate that they may need an abortion (because, honestly, who expects that to happen to them?).

The Stupak amendment’s extreme restriction of a legal, legitimate medical procedure is absolutely baffling to me. It’s like demanding that no federal money be used to treat prostate cancer, forcing men who want insurance that covers prostate cancer treatment to either pay the entirety of their health insurance costs out-of-pocket or buy an expensive, supplemental health insurance rider.