September 28, 2012 — Aetna will pay $1.5 million to settle charges that it did not comply with Missouri laws regarding coverage requirements for abortion, contraception and autism, the AP/Business Insider reports.
Missouri insurance regulators allege that Aetna violated state law by routinely including abortion coverage in its health plans and at times including contraceptive coverage without allowing employers to opt out.
A 2001 Missouri law requires health insurance policies that include pharmaceutical benefits to cover birth control prescriptions. The law allows health plans to offer policies without the coverage to employers or individuals who oppose contraception for religious or moral reasons, and it ensures that employees can purchase a plan that includes the coverage if their employer does not offer it.
Separately, a 1983 Missouri statute prohibits abortion coverage in basic health plans and instead mandates a separate premium for the coverage. The state also said Aetna violated a 2010 state law requiring autism-related coverage in health plans.
Aetna on Wednesday apologized and pledged to immediately take steps to prevent a reoccurrence.
Changes to Law
The settlement comes two weeks after Missouri's Legislature overrode Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto of a bill (SB 749) that expands religious and moral exemptions for insurance coverage of abortion, contraception and sterilization. Nixon argued that the bill was unnecessary because the current law already allows moral and religious refusals.
Missouri Department of Insurance Director John Huff said that the settlement "should be a reminder to all health benefit plans covering Missourians, that state law has stringent requirements honoring the religious and moral beliefs of insurance customers," adding, "We will be enforcing Missouri's decade-old contraception coverage law, as well as the new law on the subject, anywhere we see violations" (Blank, AP/Business Insider, 9/27).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.