Aetna Forced to Pay $15M for Making Companies Cover Abortions

State   Steven Ertelt   Sep 27, 2012   |   5:04PM    Jefferson City, MO

Insurance company Aetna has agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine because it routinely provided coverage for elective abortions, contrary to Missouri law — making companies pay for abortion services.

Aetna “[i]n some cases, provided coverage for contraceptives without allowing employers to opt out of this coverage”, also in violation of state law.

Section 376.805 of Missouri law prohibits coverage for elective abortions in health insurance plans “except by an optional rider for which there must be paid an additional premium.”  The law defines “elective abortion” as “an abortion for any reason other than a spontaneous abortion or to prevent the death of the female upon whom the abortion is performed.”

Section 376.1199 requires some health insurance plans to cover contraception, but allows for a generous opt-out by companies and employees if such coverage is contrary to their moral, ethical or religious beliefs or tenets.

The settlement requires Aetna to pay a $1.5 million fine, make a donation to a Missouri-based not for profit autism organization, and comply with all Missouri laws on coverage of elective abortion and contraception in health plans.

Samuel Lee of Campaign Life Missouri told LifeNews, “The settlement agreement describes testimony before the Missouri House Health Insurance Committee in April in support of SB 749, the religious liberty bill. The testimony described how Aetna had included coverage for elective abortions and contraception in Missouri company’s health plan for its employees.”

According to the settlement agreement: “When the policy was purchased in September, 2011, the Missouri employer was not notified as to the coverage of elective abortions under the policy, did not pay a separate premium for the elective abortion coverage and was not offered the option to reject coverage for contraception.” … “Aetna did not consistently provide notice as to whether coverage for contraception was included in a policy, until August 1, 2012” and “Aetna did not consistently notify subscribers of their right to individually reject coverage for contraception, until August 1, 2012.”

Lee says, “The settlement agreement, along with the passage of SB 749, is a wakeup call for Missouri health insurance companies.  The law is clear that the religious beliefs of business owners and employees who don’t want to pay for abortion and contraception must be respected.  Insurance companies are being put on notice that the moral concerns of Missouri citizens must take precedence over the standard operating procedure of the insurance industry.

In an AP report, Aetna spokesman Scot Roskelley said “We have worked closely with the Missouri Department of Insurance since the situation was discovered. We apologize for this oversight and have taken steps to prevent it from happening again.”

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At current, 46 percent of private health insurance plans cover abortions, according to May 2008 research from Dr. Robert Moffitt, who was the deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during the Reagan administration.