Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, has added policies that exclude abortion coverage to those available from the state’s insurance marketplace.
The plans are included in the 2015 open enrollment period. Their inclusion ended a lawsuit against Access Health that had been filed by Barth and Abbie Bracy of the Dayville section of Killingly.
The couple strongly opposes abortion and had sued the insurance exchange because it did not offer any policies that excluded abortion coverage. But the couple dropped their lawsuit after Access Health included such policies, including Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s Gold HMO Pathway X Enhanced plan and Silver PPO Pathway X. Both are multi-state plans.
In a Nov. 19 agreement with the Bracy’s that ended the suit, Access Health also said, “Access Health CT representatives will be informed which plans do not include coverage of abortions . . . so that they may inform customers seeking such a plan of the availability of these plans.”
Consumers will have to do some exploring on the Access Health CT web site to determine which policies include abortion coverage and which do not.
An Access Health insurance broker said consumers would have to look at each policy’s coverage options to determine whether abortion services are covered by a particular plan.
The only abortion services that will covered by the added plans are those allowed under the Hyde Act, a law that prohibits the federal government from subsidizing abortion services unless they terminate pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest or endanger the life of the mother.
Access Health CT did not respond to several requests for comment. But an April Office of Legislative Research report said the exchange planned to offer a multi-state plan that did not cover abortion services in 2015. The Affordable Care Act requires all states to offer these plans by 2017.
The Bracys were backed by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian, politically active group that counts conservative firebrand James Dobson among its founders.
Thanks to subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, the Bracys could have purchased a comprehensive health insurance policy through Access Health CT this year for only $2.63 a month. But they decided to keep an unsubsidized Anthem Blue Cross/ Blue Shield plan – which did not include abortion coverage but expires at the end of the year. They said their lawsuit against Access Health CT, and federal officials was based on moral principles.
Barth Bracy is executive director of Rhode Island State Right to Life and a deacon at his Catholic church.
Though the couple has dropped their suit, they said there are still not enough options for those who want to purchase policies that don’t cover abortions.
“The resolution in Connecticut remains far from ideal, indeed it remains an egregious injustice; conscientious pro-lifers are limited to choosing from among only four plans while others have 31 choices available,” Barth Bracy said.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Casey Mattox said the issue is not settled because other states, including Hawaii, New Jersey, Vermont and Rhode Island, do not offer policies that don’t cover abortions on their heath exchanges. He said residents of those states must pay an “abortion surcharge” as part of their premiums – even if they oppose abortion.
In Connecticut the fee for abortion coverage is $1 per month for plans offered by ConnectiCare Benefits and HealthyCT. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield charges a percentage of people’s premiums, so the amount varies.
“Americans should not have to pay a special fee for other people’s abortions in order to take care of their own family’s health,” Mattox said. “The Bracy family has experienced first-hand the kind of deception that was used to pass and that continues to pervade this law. While we are pleased that Connecticut families will now have a choice to avoid paying this abortion surcharge, it is a shame that other families won’t have that choice.”