Among the many arguments being made in the debate over health care reform is the claim that because very few women use private insurance coverage to pay for abortion services, loss of this coverage would have minimal impact. Those making this argument cite a Guttmacher Institute statistic showing that 13% of all abortions in 2001 were directly billed to private insurance companies (see Table 3, page 20, here).

However, that statistic alone misrepresents the situation on three counts:

The best available evidence—from two studies conducted by the Guttmacher Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation—suggests that most Americans with employer-based insurance currently have coverage for abortion. Further, as outlined above, direct billing does not equate to either extent of coverage or even use of coverage. Guttmacher’s 13% statistic, therefore, should not be cited as evidence that insurance coverage for abortion is not widespread or to suggest that restricting such coverage would have an impact on only a small minority of women.