July 6, 2012

Be Our Guest / Gabby Bibeau

Letter misrepresents Affordable Care Act’s implications, writer says

I am writing because I would like to correct some misinformation that was published in a letter to the editor in the June 29 issue of The Criterion.

The author of this letter claims that once the People’s Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is enforced in January of 2014, everyone’s insurance premiums will include a surcharge for “abortion services.”

As the author states, “none of us can opt out [of this surcharge] and it is illegal for insurance companies to list the surcharge as a separate line item on our monthly bills.” The author lists www.LifeNews.com as her source.

With all due respect, this assertion is based on a gross misreading of the Affordable Care Act.

To start, it is true that an abortion surcharge will be added to some insurance plans.

However, you are only charged this surcharge if you choose to buy into an insurance plan that covers abortions.

Let me explain. When the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, many Americans will turn to the state exchange market to pick an insurance plan.

The Affordable Care Act explicitly says that states may choose to prohibit insurance plans from covering abortions. In fact, one-third of states have already made it illegal for insurance plans within their state to cover abortions.

The Affordable Care Act also states that there must be insurance plans in every state that do not cover abortions so that no one will be forced to choose between having insurance and paying for a plan that covers abortion. Therefore, you would only have an insurance plan that covers abortion if you choose that plan for yourself.

Furthermore, one would know if a plan covers abortion by looking at each plan’s summary of benefits and coverage when they are choosing health insurance.

By federal law, the insurance plans must say in the summary of benefits and coverage if it covers abortion.

I am sure that anyone who is concerned about where their money goes, as I am, will be diligent enough to look through different plan options to make sure they are not paying for a plan that covers abortions.

In the end, only those who choose a plan with abortion coverage have to pay a surcharge with their premium. This surcharge exists so that money for abortion coverage is segregated from federal funds in order to ensure that no federal funds are used to pay for abortions.

I also looked at the link provided in the letter to www.LifeNews.com, which pulls its information from the Alliance Defense Fund. The latter cites their main source for these claims as Section #1303 of the Affordable Care Act.

Oddly enough, Section #1303, while talking about the surcharge, also explicitly states that abortion coverage is “voluntary.”

I suspect that the Alliance Defense Fund may have misread this portion of the law, and www.LifeNews.com did not do enough fact checking.

I am staunchly pro-life, and I applaud this author’s defense of the unborn, and I will concede that other aspects of the Affordable Care Act, most specifically the narrow definition of religious employers in the HHS mandate, are debatable.

However, I feel it necessary to correct misinformation. Many people do not understand the implications of health care reform, and the truth can often be lost amid the politically charged rhetoric.

My main source for this information comes from www.commonwealmagazine.org/separation-anxiety, which is an article written by pro-life legal scholar Timothy Stoltzfus Jost.

I also draw from the Affordable Care Act itself—www.democrats.senate.gov/pdfs/reform/patient-protection-affordable-care-act-as-passed.pdf.

(Gabby Bibeau is a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis.)

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