The legal effort to ban mail-order abortion pills came along just as the fledgling telehealth industry became a more accepted and entrenched part of abortion care.
This week, Hey Jane, one of more than a dozen virtual abortion providers that have no physical locations, began contracting with the insurers Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Connecticut, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield of New York and Sana, which provides health plans for small businesses nationwide. Hey Jane also already accepted Aetna in eight of the nine states in which it operates.
It’s unusual for insurers to cover telehealth abortions, and most virtual clinics are cash only. The clinics are new, and insurance coverage for abortion varies widely. In the year before Roe v. Wade was overturned, just a third of abortion patients used insurance. Some states require private insurers to cover abortions, while others bar it. Federal law prohibits the use of Medicaid for most abortions, though 16 states use state funds to cover them. But even plans that do cover abortion don’t generally include these new telehealth providers in their networks.
Health insurers tend to cover treatments that are widely accepted by clinicians and cost-effective, and Hey Jane’s insurance partnerships are the latest sign that virtual abortion clinics are seen by the health care industry as a safe, in-demand option. They also tend to be less expensive than in-clinic procedures for both patients and insurers.