Fox Revives ACA “Hidden Abortion Fee” Myth

Fox News is attempting to revive the myth that the Affordable Care Act includes a secret fee to cover abortions to support the GOP's misleadingly titled “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

On January 27, highlighted an article from right-wing website that was originally posted under the headline “Secret abortion fees hidden in Obamacare premiums.” The post promoted the claims of “congressional leaders” who claimed “Insurance companies working under the Obamacare umbrella have secretly added a surcharge to cover the cost of abortions” and claimed the Republicans' proposed  “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would resolve the problem. The claim appeared again during the January 28 edition of Fox & Friends when co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham if it was “true that there's a hidden fee to cover abortions under Obamacare”:

The right-wing media's “hidden abortion fee” myth is rooted in the original Senate version of the health care law. In 2009, then-House Minority Leader John Boehner posted a blog claiming “Sen. Reid's Government-Run Health Plan Requires a Monthly Abortion Fee.” Boehner's claim was picked up by right-wing media figures such as Rush Limbaugh, who read the press release verbatim on his show. The myth reappeared in 2012 when right-wing media figures claimed everyone under the ACA “will be forced to pay a dollar a month to cover abortion on your insurance policy.”

The myth has always been built on a misrepresentation of how the ACA handles abortion coverage. In fact, despite the title of the GOP's bill, the provision that the right-wing media is hyping is an effort to prevent taxpayer funding for abortion. The ACA requires states to offer at least one health plan that does not cover abortions. Plans that do cover abortion, however, contain a surcharge that is assessed on consumers who opt in to that plan in order to prevent federal funds from being used, a violation of the Hyde amendment that prevents federal funding from paying for abortion except in case of rape, incest, or the woman's life being in danger. In a March 21, 2012, post, PolitiFact explained:

The claim that the Obama administration has issued rules for "$1 abortions in ObamaCare" is ridiculous; the administration has simply set a floor for how much money per month of the premiums paid by those who have chosen plans that include abortion must be placed in a segregated account in order to make sure that there's enough money available to pay for abortion services incurred by people enrolled in that plan.

The bigger charge -- that the Obama health care law “requires all persons enrolled in insurance plans that include elective abortion coverage to pay a separate premium from their own pockets to fund abortion” -- is also incorrect.

The provision in question only affects people who purchase insurance plans that cover abortion and who do so on the exchanges -- a much narrower group than the claim suggests. And people who make such purchases will be paying their private dollars into abortion coverage accounts voluntarily. Despite some puzzling wording, ultimately the law allows for full disclosure of its abortion rules at the most obvious time, when someone is signing up for coverage. On balance, we rate this claim False.

The fee is also not “hidden.” It's in section 1303 of the ACA, which mandated that participation in coverage that provides abortion services must be voluntary on the part of the consumer and creates provisions for the segregation of abortion funding. The fee was discussed further in March 4, 2012, guidelines released by the Department of Health and Human Services which determined that the charge assessed on consumers who choose plans that cover abortion must not be “less than $1 per enrollee, per month.”