Transparent Trap: Abortion in Obamacare


Yesterday, Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives introduced their massive end of year spending bill, called by some a “CROmnibus.”  The bill is a disappointment in that it doesn’t give teeth to any pro-life issues that need immediate attention, such as states like California forcing Christian entities to pay for abortions.  However, it does offer instructions to the Obama Administration on issues of transparency in regards to abortion within the health law commonly known as Obamacare.

>>>>> Watch the March for Life Google Hangout with Pro-Life Caucus Chairman, Congressman Chris Smith, Are You Subsidizing Abortion Coverage?

This legislation is a prime opportunity to draw attention to the taxpayer-funded abortion coverage in the ACA; specifically, the lack of transparency regarding abortion coverage.  It has become evident that it is very difficult for consumers seeking exchange plans to identify which, if any plans, on their state exchange exclude abortion. This is vital information for pro-life consumers in the 27 states that have not passed laws to exclude abortion coverage in their state exchange.  Since there is a mandatory monthly abortion surcharge included in the premiums for any plan that includes elective abortion, pro-life consumers will want to identify plans that exclude abortion.  However, the exchange websites do not indicate whether abortion coverage is included in each plan and the pricing information does not specify when the price includes the abortion surcharge.

The CROmnibus includes the following language concerning Obamacare abortion transparency provision:

  1. 81, Division G Joint Explanatory Statement:

Transparency in Health Plans.-The agreement directs the Secretary to provide

additional clarification to qualified health plans, based upon relevant and related

GAO findings, to ensure greater consistency and full transparency of coverage

options included in health insurance plans prior to plan purchase in the

marketplace enrollment process. The agreement requests a timeline for such

clarifying guidance to be submitted to the House and Senate Committees on

Appropriations within 30 days after enactment of this act.

If the CROmnibus passes this week, it will likely be months (if ever) before the Obama Administration actually complies with the request.  However, thanks to the work of the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Family Research Council, consumers don’t have to wait as long.  Last month, the groups launched a new website to expose which health insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges cover and do not cover elective abortion for the 2015 enrollment period.

obamacare abortionThe website,, is a joint effort between the two groups. Researchers have examined new plan documents, contacted insurance carriers and the exchanges seeking plan information.  They also reference the 2014 Government Accountability Office report that provided a list of 1,036 plans that covered abortion on demand and were eligible for federal tax subsidies in 2014. This new online tool will aid Americans who want to make fully informed healthcare decisions and avoid inadvertently purchasing a plan covering abortion on demand.  Be sure to check it out.

Abortion Coverage Subsidies

Download this document as a PDF.

Are You Subsidizing Abortion Coverage?

For background information on abortion coverage in Obamacare state exchanges, click here.


Exchange Research Guidelines

Below are the 28 states and localities that include abortion in the state exchanges (other states have voted to opt-out of such coverage):

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Consumers shopping for plans on the ACA exchanges want to know if their plan covers abortion. This is very hard to decipher. Many plans do not specify on the website whether their benefits package include abortion.

To find out for yourself you can visit to find the plans or link to the state-run exchange. Explore the summary of benefits coverage for each plan offered in the state. Use the search tool to scan for the words “abortion” and “termination,” and also scroll through to the section at the end of each benefit list to review the list of additional excluded and covered benefits.  Keep a record of whether abortion is a covered benefit, excluded or not mentioned at all. Ideally, print the relevant page of each plan for your records.

Once you have identified all the carriers operating on the exchange, and the status of the plans’ abortion coverage, calls should be made to the carrier companies. Ideally, a local resident should make the calls to inquire as to whether the plan includes abortion coverage.

A suggested script is below. The caller should take very careful notes of what the carrier says, and if possible, get the name of the person they are talking with.

General script:

Hi, I’m shopping for a healthcare plan and I was looking at your plan options on Can you tell me which of them include coverage for abortion? OR Can you tell me which of your plans don’t include abortion coverage?

Typically you will get a general answer – “its’ covered,” and you will want to try to dig a little more, “is it always covered, are there any exceptions?”

If they ask why you want to know, you should say whatever you are comfortable with. One suggestion is “I don’t want to be paying into the abortion pool.”

Try to write down whatever they tell you, as carefully as possible. Please try to get a name of who you speak with. Record your notes, including the time of the phone call.


When the project is complete please send a complete record back to us at March for Life at [email protected] identifying

1)      How many plans are offered in the state?

2)      Which and how many of those plans identify their abortion coverage policy online.

3)      How many plans actually cover abortion (based on what you learned by calling).

4)      What you learned from the carriers by making phone calls.


Here is an example of a summary of research for New Jersey:

Between January 22 and 23, 2014, we reviewed all the healthcare plans available for individuals shopping on the New Jersey Exchange. We examined the summary of benefits for each plan as made available on the internet. None of the 31 plans offered made any mention of abortion coverage, either as an excluded or covered benefit.

On January 23 we called the three insurance companies administering the plans: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerihealth and Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey and asked if abortion coverage was included. Blue Cross Blue Shield and Health Republic Insurance of NJ both said abortion was a covered benefit, so at the very least, 14 of the 31 plans cover elective abortion. The third carrier, Amerihealth, was a little squishier, saying abortion could be covered if it was pre-approved.


Abortion Coverage in Obamacare

Download this document as a PDF. 


Pursuant to Section 1334 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the federal Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is required to ensure that there is at least one multi-state qualified health plan in each exchange that does not provide coverage for those abortions for which federal funding is prohibited as defined in the Hyde Amendment. Consequently, under the ACA, at least one of the “multi-state” plans approved by the Office of Personnel Management for possible availability on all the state exchanges should exclude elective abortions.  So the requirement is on the insurer who offers that health plan, not on the states.  And even the insurer is not required to cover all 50 states until FOUR YEARS after the plan’s approval. 

Insurance plans sold on the exchange will be eligible for federal subsidies even if the subsidized plan covers elective abortion – a radical departure from the policy governing all other federally subsidized health programs. This departure is accompanied by new accounting measures that will result in a mandatory abortion surcharge for many premium holders.  Despite the requirement by law there is little clarity on the subject of health insurance plans that do not cover abortion.  



In an October 30, 2013 appearance before the Energy and Commerce Committee, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius agreed to provide a list of Obamacare plans indicating whether abortion is covered. Specifically, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) asked “Can you provide for the committee the list of insurers in the federal exchange who do not offer as part of their package abortion coverage?”  Sebelius replied saying “I can do that sir…We should be able to do it…I know that is the plan, I will get that information…”  

To date the Secretary has not provided the list discussed at the October 30 hearing. 

In December 2013 Secretary Sebelius appeared before the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) questioned her on why she has not provided the list.  In an apparent backtracking from her October 30th commitment to provide a list, Sebelius told Rep. Shimkus that “every plan lists plan benefits and the one plan benefit that they must list by law is abortion services, so as a shopper goes on, I would highly recommend that they look in the plan benefits section…”  When Rep. Shimkus pressed further pointing out that he had examples of summary of benefits documents that do not indicate whether or not abortion is covered, she replied “It is on the website…it is available…”

In March 2014, following up from the previous hearings Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, questioned Secretary Sebelius about two key aspects of abortion coverage in the ObamaCare Exchanges.  National Right to Life has a report of Rep. Harris’ remarks:

At [the] hearing, Harris pointed out to Sebelius that the Maryland Insurance Commissioner had said that Exchange plans don’t have to invoice separately for abortion coverage in plans that cover abortion. (Congressman Harris was referring to Bulletin 13-24 issued by the Maryland Insurance Commissioner to insurers over seven months ago on July 31, 2013). Sebelius tried to evade responsibility for what the Maryland Insurance Commissioner was doing, but under pointed questioning from Congressman Harris she conceded that she has supervisory authority over the Maryland exchange. (For more information on how the two separate payments statutory requirement is being ignored, see “Bait-and -Switch: The Obama Administration’s Flouting of Key Part of Nelson ‘Deal’ on ObamaCare” here.)



103 of the 112 insurance plans that Members of Congress and congressional staff are being directed to (the Obamacare exchange offered in the District of Columbia -DC Health Link) INCLUDE ELECTIVE ABORTION coverage. Only nine plans offered exclude elective abortion.  (Click here to view flyer regarding the nine plans.)

Many congressional staff –knowingly and unknowingly—signed up for these abortion plans marking a distinct departure from the Smith Amendment, a longstanding law prohibiting abortion coverage in plans provided to federal employees.   This was uncovered in an article by Anna Higgins, Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council.  Anna tried to identify which plans in the D.C. HealthLink excluded abortion.  Telephone representatives for the D.C. HealthLink erroneously informed Anna that all plans on the D.C. exchange include elective abortion.  When Anna published her article about her experience, she was quickly contacted by D.C. officials who apologized, gave the information, added a website FAQ, and informed her that D.C. HealthLink staff would be retrained on the subject so as to correctly answer questions in the future. The FAQ is a step in the right direction although abortion coverage is still not easily identifiable when browsing plans on the D.C. exchange.

The amendment offered by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) three decades ago to ban abortion funding in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Programs is still current law. Like the Hyde Amendment, the Smith Amendment prohibits the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) from funding or even engaging in administrative activities in connection with any plan that includes abortion. However, the Obama Administration is now violating the Smith amendment since OPM has begun to administer a system for Members of Congress and their staff to obtain taxpayer-subsidized insurance coverage that pays for the destruction of innocent unborn children.



More taxpayer funds mean more abortions.  Experience with Medicaid indicates that unborn children are saved when abortion is not subsidized by the taxpayers. According to publications by the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute:

·         “In the absence of funding, a significant percentage of pregnancies that would have otherwise been aborted are instead ca
rried to term,”

·         “Approximately one-fourth of women who would have Medicaid-funded abortions instead give birth when this funding is unavailable.”


Legislation that addresses the problems of secrecy (short of full repeal):

Rep. Chris Smith’s “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” (H.R. 3279).


What can you do? Read more HERE.