Abortion Compromise Proponent Affirms Abortion Rider to Cost $3/ Month or Less in Senate “Dual Pool" Compromise

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Al Lewis, the first person to publicly propose the "dual pool" abortion plan adopted by the Senate in their Health Care Reform bill, discusses how the compromise affects taxpayers and the insured. Lewis says “Pro-life Senators will be able to tell their base, ‘No federal subsidies will be used for abortions,’ while pro-choice Senators will be able to say, ‘Riders will be available and very affordable for everyone.’”

"Abortion coverage could reduce the overall cost of birth event coverage by an amount similar to the cost of the abortion coverage." - Al Lewis

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The first person to publicly propose what became the Senate’s “dual pool” separate-check abortion compromise believes that pro-choice proponents should be pleased with the language now embedded in the health reform package set for a Christmas Eve vote. According to Al Lewis, who is widely credited with inventing disease management and who has written extensively on “dual pool” abortion coverage mathematics, the majority of health plans will price their abortion coverage rider at $3/month or less.

Furthermore, Lewis believes health plans may paradoxically prefer that people purchase the rider, as many health services researchers would agree with Lewis’ observation that abortion coverage could reduce the overall cost of birth event coverage by an amount similar to the cost of the abortion coverage. Therefore, some health plans might offer the rider for much less than $3/month, in order to encourage at-risk people to subscribe to it.

“The $3/month calculation is straightforward enough that it is surprising that no one has done it until now,” Lewis says. “There are fewer than one million abortions performed in the United States. Most cost approximately $400. Making reasonable adjustments for those abortions performed on the Medicaid-eligible population, for those paid in cash for privacy reasons, and for self-selection into the rider by those women/families that feel (rightly or wrongly) they are much more likely than average to seek an abortion, it is difficult to imagine that a rider would cost more than $3 a month.”

If indeed states are allowed to veto the option of allowing health plans to offer a separate pool to people in the subsidized offerings (as may happen), the rider offered by stand-alone companies would end up being several times that amount, the increment being due solely to the tremendous administrative burden of offering such a specific insurance product. Lewis calls this possibility “typical of the middleman-intensive nature of health care, and exactly the kind of thing we should be avoiding in order to make our system more efficient.”

The specific math is laid out in Lewis’ recent Newsweek essay, which can be found online at http://www.newsweek.com/id/226262. Further, by contacting Lewis via his website, http://www.OOBonomics.com, health plan executives may obtain the actual spreadsheet to work out the math on their own.

Lewis, whose extended family includes people on both sides of the abortion issue, feels that the Senate’s compromise is a win for both sides in the Democratic Party, notwithstanding decidedly unenthusiastic comments from pro-choice Senators and advocacy groups.

“Pro-life Senators will be able to tell their base, ‘No federal subsidies will be used for abortions,’ while pro-choice Senators will be able to say, ‘Riders will be available and very affordable for everyone.’”

As the originator of many other “outside of the box” policy ideas likely to be debated in 2010, Lewis is the author of OOBonomics: 12 Great “Outside Of the Box” Economic Policy Ideas No One Has Thought Of…Until Now (Morgan James, Jan. 2010). The ideas in the new book originated on http://www.OOBonomics.com, the #1 economic idea-generation website in the country, where the best ideas can earn $500 to $1-million for their originator.

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