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Michiganders buying insurance on their own cannot get abortion coverage

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A controversial law banning elective abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans is now in effect. It requires people who want abortion coverage to buy it as a separate, optional insurance policy.

The initiated law was championed by Right to Life of Michigan and passed by the state Legislature late last year.

Since then, seven insurance companies have decided to offer separate, optional abortion policies, or “riders,” for employers to offer their workers. Those plans cost between a penny and 32 cents extra every month for each employee.

“It’s not a lot of money,” said Pamela Sherstad with Right to Life of Michigan. “But it is good for people to know whether or not it is part of their policy.”

But right now, no insurers in Michigan are offering the rider policies for individuals buying insurance on their own.

“So, they really are going to be left in the dark at a time when they’re really in trouble,” said Lori Lamerand, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.

State officials say the law won’t have much of an effect right away. No insurance plans currently offered through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchange in Michigan include coverage for elective abortion. Current health plans will not be affected until they need to be renewed or replaced. And officials say only about three percent of abortions in Michigan were covered by insurance in 2012.