New Michigan Stats Disprove Notion of High Numbers of Insurance-Paid Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Michigan Stats Disprove Notion of High Numbers of Insurance-Paid Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 7
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Part of the current debate on health care and abortion revolves around a phony argument from pro-abortion groups that most insurance plans pay for abortions. If that is true, then there is little change by having Congress either force insurance providers to cover abortions or having abortion in a national plan.

However, new statistics from Michigan show that a miniscule percentage of women had their abortions paid for by insurance companies.

Thus, the national government-run health care bills pending in Congress would result in a massive overhaul of the system, whereby Americans would be required to pay for abortions through their health insurance premiums.

According to statistics from the Michigan health department this week in its survey of abortions done in 2008, just 1.8 percent of women relied in insurance coverage for their abortion.

A whopping 98.1 percent of women paid the approximately $400-$500 (for a first-trimester abortion) out of their own pockets.

The state figures show older women, who are more likely to have health care coverage than teenagers and college students, are more likely to have insurance-paid abortions. Even then, no age category of women had more than 2.8 percent of those getting abortions do so at insurance expense.

The abortion-insurance debate came to a head last month when the Associated Press faced criticism for falsely reporting that 90 percent of private insurance plans pay for abortions.

In a story titled, "Abortion is latest controversy in health overhaul," AP asserted that "nearly 90 percent of employer-based private insurance plans routinely cover abortion."

Writing at the Weekly Standard, John McCormack says the statistic is simply "not true."

He points to April testimony from Obama HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who told members of the Senate that "Most private plans do not cover abortion services except in limited instances."

The Associated Press appeared to rely on a misleading study from the Alan Guttmacher Institute that claimed the 90 percent figure. AGI relied only on voluntary reporting from insurance plans and included those that only paid for abortions in very rare cases when the life of the pregnant mother is in jeopardy.

A different analysis found that 46 percent of private health insurance plans cover abortions.

Regardless of how many plans pay for abortion, the Michigan data make it clear that insurance plans rarely make their premium-holders pay for abortions. That would change drastically under the health care plans Congress is considering.

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