Courtesy of CT-N
Susan Rich-Bye, director of legal affairs for Access Health CT (Courtesy of CT-N)

HARTFORD, CT — The Access Health CT Board of Directors plans to send a sharply worded letter in opposition to a rule that would require private insurance companies to send customers separate bills: one for their monthly premium, and another for the portion of their premium – a dollar – that covers abortion.

The proposed rule was released last week by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It would require insurance companies to send a separate bill to consumers who selected a plan with abortion coverage for the portion of premiums attributable to abortion services for which public funding is prohibited.

It means almost all the 100,000 consumers expected to purchase their plans through Connecticut’s exchange will receive a bill for their monthly premium and a separate one for the $1 of the premium that’s covering abortion services. Of the 17 plans to be offered through the exchange in 2019, 16 offer abortion coverage.

Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, insurers have been required to break out the cost of abortion coverage as part of the monthly premium on one bill. But it doesn’t require the insurance carrier to bill for the amount separately and it allows consumers to make one payment.

Susan Rich-Bye, director of legal affairs for Access Health CT, said the proposed rule would require insurance carriers to send two separate bills.

“Two envelopes. Two stamps,” Rich-Bye said. “If it’s an e-bill, two separate emailed bills.”

Then the consumer would have to pay them separately, Rich-Bye said. However, if the consumer makes one payment then the carrier could accept it under her reading of the proposed rule.

Healthcare Advocate Ted Doolittle asked whether it would cost the insurance carriers more than $1 to send separate bills to consumers.

Rich-Buy said it’s probably more than a $1.

Vicki Veltri, head of the Office of Health Strategy, said she’s concerned about confusion.

She said if a consumer misses the payment of $1, then it’s going to be considered non-payment and their policy could be terminated.

The Access Health CT Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday to send a letter in opposition of the proposed rule.

If finalized, this rule would apply to the insurance plans for 2019. Enrollment in those plans is open and ends on Dec. 15.