Sunday, November 15, 2009

Concerning the Stupak Amendment- When Private Insurers Don't Cover Abortions

A friend of mine connected a harrowing personal experience of hers to the attack on and undermining of women's health and free choice in this country through the Stupak/Pitts amendment that just recently passed the House. This is a short and moving piece; anyone interested should read this.

When Private Insurance Companies don’t Cover Abortions
by Anonymous

The good news is universal health care is more of a reality, but now, if passed in the senate this legislation will be a major setback for women.

On Nov. 7 the house approved a bill that would severely restrict access to insurance companies for abortions. The house measure would block insurance companies from selling abortion coverage to anyone receiving a federal subsidy and anyone who receives health insurance through a government-run plan. Ironically this restriction would make little impact on the current system.

According to the Guttmacher Institute out of 1.2 million abortions performed each year, only about 13 percent (156,000) are directly billed to their insurers. Many women are unaware that their insurance plans cover abortions or just don’t want their insurance companies to know.

Last year I found myself in the same position and wanted to have the procedure anywhere but the Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi (The state’s only abortion clinic). Upon calling my insurance company I was met with by the voice of an unsympathetic woman, who told me my plan did not cover abortions. But she did enthusiastically list off all the prenatal services and benefits covered through my employer for having a child.

My only option at that point was to make way through the throngs of protesters and receive care at a clinic with little concern for my prior medical history, a disorganized staff ( my file was lost three times), and lack of thorough explanation for the procedure and the instructions afterwards.

It took two months and eight visits (that’s 16 times I had to walk through protesters yelling “Mommy don’t do this” in baby voices) for the clinic to determine my pregnancy had been terminated. I can’t say if my procedure was unique but the lack of quality care for a sensitive procedure should not be taken lightly, or with a “that’s what she deserves” attitude.

Can you imagine any other medical procedure conducted in this manner?

If my insurance company did cover the procedure would I have been treated more like an actual patient?

I don’t want to blame my experience all on the clinic. It’s the only clinic in the entire state dealing with legislation and opponents trying to shut them down every chance possible. The volume and influx of patients is exceedingly high for the clinic’s capacity and staff.

Women are still going to have abortions whether their insurance companies provide them or not. The real question is how can we make sure these women are safe and receiving the best care possible?

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