In a reversal of directives given to health care insurance companies earlier this year, California state insurance officials issued new rules advising health insurance companies in California that they may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions.
The new directives stemmed from complaints filed by employees at two Catholic universities in California who stated that their employer had dropped elective abortions from their employee health plans.
The directives seem at odds with recent US Supreme Court rulings, especially Hobby Lobby vs. Sebelius, which ruled that closely-held corporations have a First Amendment right to choose to not provide health care insurance to their employees that conflicts with the owners' religious beliefs, including abortion and the coverage of supposed abortificents. However, California state insurance officials stated that in California, the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits insurers from selling group plans that exclude such services. The law in question requires such plans to encompass all "medically necessary" care.
"Abortion is a basic health care service," department director Michelle Rouillard wrote in the letter. "All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally."