MN abortion services coverage required by insurance under law proposal

Lawmakers are considering whether to require insurance companies to cover services related to abortion as part of their health care plans for Minnesotans.

Authored by Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), the proposed bill requires health plans to cover "abortions and abortion-related services," including pre-abortion and follow-up services. It also prohibits a health plan from imposing any limitation on the coverage of abortions and abortion-related services that aren't otherwise applicable to other coverage under the same health plan.

"Abortion is healthcare, and health insurance isn’t worth very much if it doesn’t cover the care that you need – which is why this is necessary," Rep. Stephenson told the House Health Finance and Policy on Thursday.

According to Rep. Stephenson, over 25% of women who needed an abortion in Minnesota were forced to pay out of pocket in 2021.

During the committee session, testifiers spoke on behalf of the measure, saying it would increase equitable healthcare for those in need.

"Abortion care is pregnancy-related care. Insurance companies excluding abortion care from pregnancy-related services is false advertising," said Dr. Nicole Chaisson of the University of Minnesota Medical Center. "Excluding these services delays care that’s often needed urgently, or puts it entirely out of reach. As long as insurance companies discriminate against people who need abortions, the stigma and financial barriers impeding access to abortion will continue."

Opponents of the bill sought religious exemptions to the proposal on the moral grounds of being against the act of abortion itself.

One woman from Mendota Heights spoke against being, "forced to be an accomplice to abortions via health care premiums."

An amendment offered by Rep. Neu Brindley (R-North Branch) would have restricted abortion coverage by an insurance plan within its coverage network – a requirement similar to other procedures.

But Rep. Stephenson objected to the change, saying some services might not be readily available within a person’s network throughout the state.

"I think it’s a little disingenuous to suggest these services are not widely available [in Minnesota]," said Rep. Neu Brindley.

The bill was ultimately laid over for potential addition to a larger collection of bills, known as an omnibus.