Opinion: Abortion bills in Washington state include SB 5242, eliminating cost-sharing for enrollees

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center discusses SB 5242, which would require state-regulated health plans in the state to cover abortion with no cost-sharing charges to an enrollee.

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center discusses SB 5242, which would require state-regulated health plans in the state to cover abortion with no cost-sharing charges to an enrollee

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

One of the five bills lawmakers will consider Tuesday concerning abortion is Senate Bill 5242, which a press release from Senate Democrats describes this way: “SB 5242 seeks to ease the burden of out-of-pocket costs by eliminating cost-sharing for patients seeking abortion care.” 

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

It was scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care at 8 a.m. today (Jan. 24). I’m interested in finding out more about how this would work and hope lawmakers will look at what this law would do other than allow them to champion what they see as abortion rights.

Speaking about the handful of bills seeing legislative activity Tuesday, Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and chair of the Senate Health and Long Term Care committee, said, “Hearing and considering all of these bills on the same day demonstrates the ongoing comprehensive work we are focused on and signals how serious we are about protecting the fundamental right to reproductive healthcare.” 

Another serious concern to Washingtonians is the rising cost of health care. Government regulations add to those costs. Dictating what insurers cover and what their copays and deductibles look like impacts all those who buy insurance and pay premiums in our state.

Right now, Washington state requires state-regulated plans to cover abortion, but it allows them to apply the plan’s regular deductible, coinsurance and/or copay. SB 5242 (and a companion bill, House Bill 1115) would require state-regulated health plans in Washington state to cover abortion with no cost-sharing charges to an enrollee. Read more about how the states differ in their approaches to insurance requirements for abortion services here

Supporters of this no-cost-sharing-allowed bill say that abortion shouldn’t be impacted by one’s ability to pay. How far does that argument go? To how many health services? And should the government be deciding?

I’ll be tuning into the hearing.

Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and the director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is a Clark County resident.


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