There Is No ‘Abortion Fee’ In Obamacare

Religion Dispatches reports on a lawsuit filed by a Catholic couple from Connecticut on the grounds that the Affordable Care Act forces them to pay an “abortion fee” as part of the insurance plan they got through the ACA’s health care exchange. There is no such fee.

A Catholic couple from Connecticut has filed suit against what it says is an “abortion fee mandate” contained in the Affordable Care Act. Barth and Abbie Bracy claim they are being forced to pay a $1 fee for abortion coverage to obtain insurance through Connecticut’s health exchange and that such payment violates their religious freedom as abortion opponents. But the “abortion fee” they claim to be paying is an illusion—the result of the Catholic bishops’ own objections to abortion coverage under the ACA.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lost a heated battle to ban private insurers who are participating in exchanges from providing abortion coverage beyond the Hyde amendment limitations of rape, incest and life endangerment. But the bishops were successful in forcing the creation of a cumbersome methodology designed to ensure that no money from federally funded insurance subsidies would go toward abortions.

Apparently the bishops were hoping that ACA enrollees would have to write a separate check for abortion coverage so they’d be freaked out by having to write “for abortion” on the memo line. Instead, the methodology worked out by the Department of Health and Human Services requires insurers to segregate the premiums on their end, setting aside a small percentage of the premiums in a separate account to pay for the estimated cost of abortion claims, which, it should be noted, would include abortions for health reasons, emergency abortions in the case of catastrophic pregnancy loss, or abortions for fetal deformities, all of which are expensive, hospital-based procedures.

The Catholic bishops then turned around and asserted that this segregation methodology that they forced was an “additional payment” for “elective abortions for anyone in the plan.” They even suggested that insurers would prefer to pay for abortions rather than the cost of childbirth or health insurance for children. Their favorite waterboy, Rep. Chris Smith, tried to drum up some outrage on the right about the “abortion surcharge” back in 2012 but didn’t have much success.

Now the surcharge is back as an “abortion fee.” Writing in America last month, USCCB lobbyist Richard Doerflinger warned that health plans “must require each and every enrollee to pay a special premium solely for elective abortions… a common impression that enrollees will write a ‘separate check’ for abortion, which pro-life dissenters might try refusing to sign, is apparently false,” which the bishops have known since 2012.

The amazing thing, as the article notes, is that this couple and their family pay a total of $2.63 a month for their health insurance because of the subsidies they qualify for. They should be thrilled about that. Instead, they’re using right wing talking points to file a frivolous lawsuit over it.

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  • dmcclean

    ZOMG! Under Obamacare, 38% of health costs for good Christian folk are just for giving free government abortions to sluts?

    … is how they will spin the $2.63 thing.

  • dingojack

    There are an estimated 3096 ‘Chris Smiths’ in America. Can we be sure he’s not an illegal alien? Can we be be sure he didn’t vote multiple times to facilitate his own election?



  • The amazing thing, as the article notes, is that this couple and their family pay a total of $2.63 a month for their health insurance because of the subsidies they qualify for. They should be thrilled about that. Instead, they’re using right wing talking points to file a frivolous lawsuit over it.

    Sure, they’ll keep the good stuff, but don’t expect them to be happy about it. They earned the good stuff (which also costs too much, because Obama. The Republican plan, of being vague, keeping popular things and also not paying for them, is much more Fiscally Conservative). It’s the stuff they don’t like that they don’t want and don’t want you to have either. They can’t be happy about it protecting morons if it murders babies. And also they can’t be happy about it protecting morons, because Obama.

    Besides, this is all stuff that the Free Market should decide. And if the Free Market decides to offer stuff they don’t like, then it’s the duty of government to heavily regulate and police the Free Market. That’s just Common Sense.

  • Barth Bracy is the head of Rhode Island Right to Life, and lobbies the General Assembly here for reproductive IN-justice (even though he lives in Connectictt, apparently.) We’ve sparred several times on a host of issues.

  • busterggi

    I live in Connecticut and signed up for the ACA. There is no such fee in my plan but even if there were it would be via the free market as the insurance is all private industry. Why do Catholics hate capitalism?

  • karmacat

    Where were these bishops when congress was trying to raise minimum wage? Or fighting the death penalty? Oh, I forgot, it is all about women having and enjoying sex

  • cptdoom

    Meanwhile these “good Catholics” are totes fine with paying for health care costs for at least three of the seven deadly sins – gluttony, sloth & wrath (diabetes and heart disease) – not to mention paying for the health care of heretics, blasphemers, pagans, fornicators, adulterers & (gasp) even Jews. How faithful are they really?

  • marcus

    Modusoperandi @ 3 You’re beginning to be able to think like the morons so much it’s getting scary. Remember what your mom used to say about making faces? What if your brain freezes that way?

  • marcus, my brain did freeze that why. Hence the Medicare-paid-for electric scooter and the Gadsden flag. Well, not Gadsden, exactly. More of a Hello Kitty flag. Close enough, really.