Two insurance companies say they will provide abortion coverage in state

OLYMPIA — Two insurance companies who filed to compete in Washington state’s health care exchange initially proposed not to provide abortion coverage, officials said Wednesday.

All current Washington health plans provide abortion insurance. Stephanie Marquis, a spokeswoman with the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, said the plans without such coverage in the health exchange were recently filed by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of The Northwest and Bridge-Span Health Company.

A spokesman for Kaiser said it mistakenly omitted abortion coverage in its filings and is moving to correct the error. A BridgeSpan spokeswoman said the company has been reassessing and making changes to its plans and intends to include coverage for abortion services.

The early proposals set off frustration among advocates who have been pressing for a new state law to secure abortion coverage for all Washington health plans.

Elaine Rose, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, said it is evidence of the need for lawmakers to make it clear that abortion should be covered.

“What’s going to happen next year, or the year after that or the year after that?” Rose said. “Are we going to constantly be at the whims of insurance carriers changing their minds?”

Opponents of the abortion insurance law have long argued that it’s unnecessary since all the plans in the state have been providing abortion coverage. Advocates have been worried that plans may change due to new rules that create more administrative burdens for insurers when they cover abortions.

The insurance commissioner’s office has also supported the law.

“Any time you don’t have something written into law, there’s a chance it won’t be covered,” Maquis said.

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