Aetna Health Insurance Company has been fined $1.5 million by the state of Missouri for selling policies that cover elective abortions without requiring customers to pay an additional premium for that coverage.
A 1983 state law states that no health insurance policy “shall provide coverage for elective abortions except by an optional rider for which there must be paid an additional premium.”
Aetna’s practice of bundling elective abortion coverage into health plans came to light during a public hearing on SB 749, the religious liberty bill recently enacted into law over Gov. Nixon’s veto.
In supporting SB 749 in an April 24 hearing before the House Insurance Committee, Kansas City attorney Woody Cozad reported that one of his clients was unaware that abortion coverage had been included in the policy sold to the company.
The executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, Mike Hoey, said the Aetna situation might never have come to light without the effort to pass SB 749. “When state insurance officials heard that testimony they undertook an investigation,” he noted.
The investigation found that Aetna had been selling policies that included elective abortions whenever a policy provided maternity benefits. “This is the kind of policy abortion advocates must love: just make elective abortions another component of the maternity benefits provided in health plans, preferably without customers even knowing it’s there and they are paying for it,” Hoey observed.
The revelation about Aetna led proponents of SB 749 to add new and stronger provisions to ensure no one would be forced to pay for elective abortions in their health plans.
“When the Aetna situation came to light, we worked with legislators to add even stronger provisions to SB 749. Now – under the new law, even if a company wants coverage for elective abortions and pays for it with an additional rider, employees of that company have the right to exclude and not pay for that coverage in their premium.”
The new SB 749 law builds on other state laws that were in place prior to passage of SB 749. “There were some weird loopholes prior to passage of SB 749,” Hoey observed.
“An employee could opt out of paying for contraceptives, but a company could not. Now all customers have the right to opt out of this coverage when it violates their moral or religious beliefs,” he said.
The new SB 749 law also adds provisions to make sure customers know beforehand whether a policy proposed by a company is to include contraceptive coverage. “People have a right to know what the insurance company is trying to sell them,” Hoey said.
“The new SB 749 law really completes the work of earlier laws so that the moral and religious beliefs of all Missouri citizens are respected when they buy insurance,” Hoey said.
“We look forward to the Nixon administration enforcing the new SB 749 law,” Hoey said. “In this state we should respect the moral and religious beliefs of all citizens.”