To reduce costs, Maine insurance co-op eliminates elective abortion coverage

Maine insurance co-op Community Health Options has decided to drop coverage of elective abortion services, according to an NPR report.

Community Health Options, one of six remaining co-ops created under the ACA, attributed the decision to multiple factors.

"This decision was really driven by economic considerations, as well as the construction of the ACA and how it regards essential health benefits in the individual marketplace," President and CEO Kevin Lewis said in the report.

Under the ACA, elective abortions aren't considered an essential health benefit, and neither is another service the co-op recently dropped — adult vision care, according to the report.
Mr. Lewis could not indicate in the report exactly how much money the co-op will save, but eliminating elective abortion coverage is one of several changes the co-op made to reduce an already steep premium hike of 25 percent. Without the changes, Mr. Lewis said, the average increase would have been 33 percent.

Although Community Health Options said the decision to drop coverage of elective abortion services is to contain costs, Maine abortion services providers describe it as a decision that erects barriers to women's healthcare, the report notes.

"It further stigmatizes a normal procedure that we're trying to help people understand is part of the comprehensive experience of women's healthcare," Andrea Irwin, executive director of the Mabel Wadsworth Health Center in Bangor, Maine, said in the report.

According to Kaiser Family Foundation research, 25 states currently ban abortion coverage on the ACA marketplace.



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