On Anniversary of “Rape Insurance” Law Taking Effect, State Legislators Introduce Bills to Make Women’s Health Care More Accessible

LANSING – State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) and State Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-Lansing) have introduced legislation to repeal the dangerous “rape insurance” law, and to mandate that all health insurance companies that offer group and individual health care coverage must provide the option to purchase abortion service coverage.
It has been one year since the “rape insurance” law took effect, banning health insurance companies in Michigan from covering abortion services unless a separate health insurance rider is purchased. Currently, only seven health insurers in the state offer such a policy, and those that do only offer it as an add-on to an employer-provided plan and not for individual plans.
“When this sexist and discriminatory law was passed, proponents claimed that it would not interfere with women’s access to health care since they could purchase a rider,” Warren said. “It has now been a year since the law took effect and the reality is that this separate policy is not actually offered by most insurance companies. That means that the vast majority of women in Michigan, including those who need assistance during a miscarriage or who face serious medical complications, must pay out of pocket for vital care that can cost thousands of dollars.”
Women in Michigan who buy insurance individually or on the health care exchange can’t buy this coverage, nor can women whose employers offer health insurance through any of the health insurance companies in Michigan who don’t offer the rider.
“Medical decisions should be left to a woman and her doctor,” said Hertel, Jr. “No woman should have to get approval from human resources, or her boss, when it comes to her personal medical decisions.”
The “rape insurance” law requires women to buy or ask their employer to purchase the extra rider in case she may need insurance to pay for an “abortion.” However, medical billers often use the term “abortion” to apply to miscarriages as well as elective and inevitable abortions, meaning that women who need medical intervention will have to absorb that cost themselves. The law also makes no exceptions for a woman who needs necessary medical care because a fetus is malformed, has a genetic abnormality, her own health is at risk or because she became pregnant following a rape.
“I shared my story on the Senate floor when this law was passed in an effort to put a human face on it, but the truth is that it is not about any one story or one experience. It is about the millions of women across this state who are in situations we cannot imagine and who are now being denied access to critical health care,” said former State Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer. “We remain committed to working to repeal this extreme and misogynistic law, but in the meantime, we must ensure that women are able to get the comprehensive medical coverage they need and deserve.”

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