ObamaCare 2018: Unaffordable, fewer options, still covers abortion

Arina Grossu is Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.  This article appeared in The Hill on November 10, 2017.

Open enrollment for ObamaCare is under way, having started November 1 and running through December 15, 2017. For the fourth year in a row, the Family Research Council and the Charlotte Lozier Institute have partnered to uncover exclusive 2018 information at ObamaCareAbortion.com revealing abortion coverage in ObamaCare plans.

News stories have already alerted shoppers that 71 percent of cities will see double-digit premium increases as more insurers have dropped out of the exchanges. In fact, the number of health insurers participating on the exchanges is set to decline by 19 percent. The decline in insurers has resulted in fewer health care options and higher premiums for shoppers.

ObamaCare is not only growing more unaffordable for millions of Americans and offering fewer options, it is continuing to prove antithetical to the values held by pro-life Americans who do not want to pay for health care plans that cover abortion on demand and that lack transparency about such coverage.

For the 2016 and 2017 enrollment, a total of 25 states opted out of covering abortion. For the 2018 enrollment, Texas joined their ranks as of August 2017, making it the 26th state to opt out of abortion coverage. The Texas law will go into effect on December 1, 2017.

Taxpayer Funding of ObamaCare, Including Plans That Cover Elective Abortion

While it is commendable that we now have a majority of states that have opted out of covering abortion on demand, it is important to highlight that taxpayers in those states still pay federal taxes that are used to pay for coverage that includes abortion on demand in other states. Between 2015 and 2024, an estimated total of $855 billion in federal subsidies will be used in all states to pay for ObamaCare health plans, many of which include elective abortion.

As for the non-opt-out states in 2017, an estimated 2.2 million people are receiving a total of $8.6 billion dollars in taxpayer money in advanceable premium tax credits (APTCs) for plans that cover abortion on demand.

2018 Findings on Abortion Coverage in ObamaCare

We specifically looked at the 24 remaining states (and the District of Columbia) which permit abortion on demand in their ObamaCare plans.

ObamaCare exchange plan offerings for non-opt out states went from an estimated total of 1,565 plans in 2017 to an estimated total of 1,003 plans in 2018, a 36 percent decrease in plan offerings. In 2017, 57 percent of the 1,565 total plans in non-opt out states covered abortion on demand (around 891 plans).

In 2018, 53 percent of the 1,003 total plans in non-opt out states will cover abortion on demand (roughly 527 plans). While abortion-including plans dropped by 4 percent from last year to this year’s enrollment, 53 percent is not the final number because there are still about 110 plans in those states with unknown coverage because of a lack of transparency.

Further, in 2018 a total of seven locales will only offer plans that cover abortion on demand, with no pro-life healthcare options. This is the highest number of abortion-only locales since 2014. They are Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Pro-life residents in these states and the District should contact ObamaCareAbortion to raise their concerns about a lack of any pro-life healthcare options.

In addition to the above locales, another three states in 2018 have 85 percent or more of their exchange plans covering abortion on demand: Connecticut (95 percent), New Hampshire (87 percent), and Oregon (88 percent).

Another sign that ObamaCare is quickly imploding is that in 2018, Multi-State Plans (MSPs) have been removed from 21 of the 22 participating states from last year, leaving the total number of MSPs available from 203 plans in 2017 to three plans nationally in 2018. Those three MSPs are available in the sole state of Arkansas in 2018.

MSPs are plans that have been approved and operated on the ObamaCare exchange by the federal Office of Personnel Management. According to the ObamaCare law, by 2017 all 50 states were supposed to offer MSPs, with at least one plan offered in each state that did not cover abortion. The loss of MSPs will most drastically affect California. The four MSPs that were offered in 2017 in California were the only abortion-excluding plan options in the state, despite the California abortion mandate. With the MSPs gone in California in 2018, Californians will no longer have any pro-life ObamaCare plan options.

In 2018, Maryland also joined the list of states that offer no abortion-excluding plan options because the only carrier that excluded abortion in 2017 exited the marketplace for 2018.

Transparency and Compliance Issues

In 2018, eight companies across six states are not in compliance with ObamaCare law, which requires that they be transparent about their coverage of elective abortion in their Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBCs). They are:

  • Illinois (1 company): Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc.
  • Texas (1 company): Sendero Health Plans, Inc.
  • Colorado (2 companies): Bright Health; Elevate by Denver Health Medical Plan, Inc.
  • Connecticut (1 company): ConnectiCare Benefits, Inc. (7 of 8 plans)
  • Massachusetts (1 company): BMC Health Net
  • New York (2 companies): Fidelis; Independent Health

These companies are not in compliance with abortion transparency regulations and need to comply immediately. Further, in Massachusetts, the links for the insurer Fallon lead to a page of outdated 2017 plans. Similarly, in New Mexico and Texas, CHRISTUS has broken links as of this writing.

ObamaCare has never been nor ever will be the answer to our country’s healthcare needs. In 2018, Congress needs to get serious about repealing and replacing ObamaCare. Americans want insurance that is affordable, transparent, and offers them real healthcare options. The majority of Americans (61 percent) also do not want to subsidize abortion in the U.S. with taxpayer money. We must find real healthcare solutions that exclude abortion, because abortion is not healthcare.