KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Most Women Pay For Abortions Out Of Pocket; Okla. And Fla. Abortion Restrictions In The News

The Wall Street Journal: "Most women getting abortions pay for them out of their own pockets, with private insurers picking up the cost for just 12%, according to a new survey" from the Guttmacher Institute. The Journal adds that abortion coverage was "a flash point" in the health reform debate, "with abortion opponents seeking to block plans that include abortions from the new federally mandated insurance exchanges set to launch in 2014." But "private plans play only a limited role in enabling women to obtain abortions. About a third of the women surveyed were uninsured, a third were on Medicaid, and a third had private coverage. Overall, 57% of the women paid for their own abortions, while 13% got financial assistance such as help from a nonprofit, and 20% had procedures paid for by Medicaid, which covers abortion using state dollars in some states."

"Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at Guttmacher, suggested that some women might have chose to pay themselves so the abortion wouldn't be in their insurance records, or they mightn't know their plans covered abortion" (Mathews, 5/4).

The Guttmacher Institute posted the full survey "Characteristics of U.W. Abortion Patients, 2008" on its website.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that "Oklahoma's attorney general agreed Monday to temporarily block enforcement of a controversial new state law that requires pregnant women to get an ultrasound and hear a detailed description of the fetus before they get an abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights was set to argue for a temporary restraining order Monday, but attorneys for both sides agreed to accept the order before the court hearing. ... A judge ruled last year that [a similar] 2008 law was unconstitutional because it violated requirements that legislative measures deal only with one subject - but did not rule on the validity of the ultrasound provisions. The new abortion law went into effect last week after lawmakers overrode Gov. Brad Henry's veto" (Talley, 5/3).

And, Health News Florida reported on Friday that in the last day of the legislature, lawmakers "passed a controversial bill that would require ultrasounds before women can have abortions. ... The abortion issue touched off a fierce -- and often emotional -- debate in the House. Along with mandating ultrasounds, the bill also would require women to sign forms if they don't want to view the results. What's more, the bill would tighten abortion restrictions on women who eventually get insurance under a new federal health-reform law. ... The St. Petersburg Times quoted [Gov. Charlie] Crist as saying he had 'very serious concerns' about the bill" (Saunders, 4/30).

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