Thursday, December 10, 2009

Separate But Equal? Insurance, Abortion, And Politics

Could creating two insurance pools solve the health-care impasse?
By Al Lewis
Posted by Jonathan Tse

Though the Nelson amendment, which attempted to restrict federal insurance funds for abortion, failed in the Senate Tuesday, the issue of abortion's role in health care is far from settled. While the Senate version, if passed as now written, would allow federal funding, the House version, thanks to the Stupak amendment, does not even allow private purchase of a rider. Democrats are still divided on this issue, and without Democratic unity, health reform fails. Fortunately, the point of contention is not the thornier one of whether abortions should be legal, but rather how to accommodate both those who want to provide federal coverage and those who refuse to vote to earmark government funds to do so.

Both views can be accommodated by the simple step of establishing two insurance pools, one covering abortion and one not. Each would have the same premium, and people would sign up for the pool of their choice, depending on whether they wanted abortion coverage or not. To fully understand why this math works despite the extra cost of abortions, you must first understand abortion financing and rates in general. (What's the best way to take the passion out of the abortion fight? Turn it into an insurance equation).

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