Michigan’s controversial new abortion insurance law will go into effect Friday, but students and faculty with healthcare plans provided through the University should not see a change in their coverage.
The law, which was passed late last year, prohibits healthcare plans purchased after Thursday in Michigan from covering abortions. Some individuals, specifically those who are fully insured through an employer or enrolling organization, will have an option to purchase a rider — an additional cost to their insurance — to have abortion coverage.
The domestic and international student health insurance the University provides through Aetna qualify as fully insured plans, which means that to continue coverage under this law, the University would have to add on that additional rider.
But, since the law only applies to new enrollments, students will not see any change until August, when the University must renew its plan.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Aetna Spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said the effect of the law on the University’s student insurance plans will not be clear until then.
“It’s too early to know,” Michener wrote. “We will discuss the University of Michigan’s plan options during the renewal process.”
However, Laurie Burchett, Managed Care/Student Insurance manager, said in an interview Wednesday afternoon that the University is committed to providing elective abortion coverage for the domestic student plan.
“This is something that we cover, and we’re going to continue to cover it,” Burchett said.
Louise Baldwin, associate director of the International Institute, said for international plans, the same applied.
“It would be technically considered as a rider, which is what the plan specified, but all students enrolled in the plan would have the benefit,” Baldwin said. “Long story short, it’s not going to affect the coverage.”
Baldwin added that students should not see an increase in what they pay for the plan based on the addition of the rider.
Graduate students and faculty at the University who receive coverage through University plans, such as GradCare, U-M Premier Care or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Community Blue PPO, will not see any change in their coverage under the new law. These self-insured plans — under which the University assumes financial risks instead of the provider — are not subject to changes under the new law.
The three faculty and grad plans all already offer some form of elective abortion coverage currently, according to documents on the University Benefits Office website.
One faculty plan, the Health Alliance Plan, is not self-insured, but it already has a rider for abortion coverage, David Reid, senior director of Strategic Communications, said in an e-mail statement.
On campus, the law has pushed students to act both for and against the changes.
LSA junior Taylor Crookston, vice president of Students for Life, a pro-life organization, said a lot of students among the organization got involved with advocating and petition to get the law through Congress.
“We did the petition drives, most of us have signed it,” Crookston said. “We didn’t do a lot of it on campus with holding the petitions and getting people to sign it, because most of it was done over the summer.”
LSA junior Sophia Kotov, president of Students for Choice, a pro-choice organization, said she saw a strong campus reaction after the abortion insurance law passed last December.
“When the law actually passed, a lot of people were showing up for Students for Choice and were saying ‘Wow, this is ridiculous, I should get involved somehow,’” Kotov said. “It actually mobilized a lot of people.”
The law’s official start date also gathered attention at the Michigan State Capitol. State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D–East Lansing) announced the launch of a new nonprofit organization Wednesday, called Right to Health, in response.
“Through Right to Health, I’ll be traveling around Michigan this year to talk to women & men about the importance of protecting our health care rights and the damage that is caused when misogynistic ideas like the new ‘Rape Insurance’ law are allowed to happen,” Whitmer wrote in a statement on her Facebook page.