Day: July 13, 2022

Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision could affect health insurance coverage

Abortion rights demonstrators protest outside the United States Supreme Court as the court rules in the Dobbs v Women's Health Organization abortion case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2022. 

Jim Bourg | Reuters

Even when Roe v. Wade was in effect and women had the legal right to an abortion no matter where they lived in the U.S., health insurance coverage of the procedure was limited.

Many states restrict what plans can cover, and a decadeslong national law bans the use of federal funds for abortions, meaning that women on Medicaid and Medicare were often not covered when it came to pregnancy terminations.

With abortion now expected to be prohibited in at least half the states after the landmark decision protecting women's right to an abortion was overturned by the Supreme Court last week, coverage will only become rarer, experts say.

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"State-regulated insurers in states where abortion is banned will have to drop coverage of abortions to stay in compliance with state criminal law," said Caitlin Donovan, a spokeswoman for the National Patient Advocate Foundation.

Still, women seeking coverage for abortion may have options available to them. Although the landscape is quickly changing, here's what we know as of now.

How much does an abortion cost?

How did coverage of abortions work before?

Prior to the Supreme Court's decision last week, abortion coverage was still highly dependent on where you lived and what type of plan you had, Donovan said. "Most states impose restrictions on coverage in varying degrees."

Eleven states limit the coverage of abortion in all private health insurance plans written in the state, according to The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights research organization. They are Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

Meanwhile, just six states — California, Illinois, Maine, New York, Oregon and Washington — require abortion coverage, with some stipulations, on private plans.

The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, blocked federal funding for services such as Medicaid from being used for abortions, except in limited cases including rape and incest. States can choose to use their own budgets to supplement their Medicaid coverage and extend their abortion policies, but more than 30 states have not done so, Donovan said.

As a result, "in many states, hundreds of thousands of women seeking abortion services annually are left without coverage options," according to a 2019 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

How will coverage now change?

It will just get more limited, experts say.

If you live in a state such as Louisiana or South Dakota, where abortion is now banned, "you probably don't have any insurance coverage for it at all except in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the mother's life," Donovan said.

"Some states may not even allow those exceptions," Donovan added.

However, employers that self-fund for their health insurance policy, meaning they take on most of the costs of benefit claims, may be able to maintain their abortion coverage, said Joelle Abramowitz, an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan. Such plans tend to be subject to less regulation, giving the company more flexibility on benefits offered.

Donovan recommends calling your plan provider and asking about its abortion coverage. Of course, if abortions are banned in your state, even if you're covered, you'll likely have to travel to another state to get one.

Some companies are also covering travel expenses for employees who need to leave the state for an abortion.

What about leaving my state for an abortion?

If you have abortion coverage, you may need to go "out of network" on your health insurance plan to see a doctor in another state, experts say.

Out-of-network coverage is typically less robust, and some health plans, including HMO plans, don't offer it at all. Abramowitz suggests calling your insurance plan and asking whether you have out-of-network benefits and how they work.

In some cases, people may find it's cheaper to pay a provider out of pocket than to go through their out-of-network insurance option, Abramowitz said. Many abortion providers work on a sliding scale, she added.

It's also worth asking your insurance plan if there are any in-network abortion providers in another state. There could be one right over the state line, for example, Abramowitz said.

You also may be able to see a provider in another state virtually through a telehealth visit to get a medication abortion. In these cases, your medication can be mailed to you or you'll be asked to pick it up somewhere.

However, 19 states have already made it illegal to receive medication prescribed during a telehealth visit.

How can I get financial help?

Hunger and nutrition are non-negotiables: Experts

HUNGER and nutrition should become non-negotiables under the Marcos administration, according to local economists.

With the majority of Filipinos already not being able to afford healthy diets, the recent spike in inflation caused by more expensive food items would require the national government to introduce interventions.

One intervention, Ateneo Eagle Watch Senior Fellow Leonardo A. Lanzona Jr. told the BusinessMirror, is for the government to provide food subsidies instead of cash subsidies. This will ensure that families do not grow hungry and that the food is also good for them.

“I would like to note that hunger and nutrition are non-negotiables. There seems to be a general trend in this and the previous administration to focus on the economy and basically assume that income will be distributed automatically,” Lanzona said in an e-mail over the weekend.

“It is important to prioritize health, nutrition and education because downgrading their values in this post-pandemic period will make it difficult to return to its previous state,” he added.

Giving food subsidies, Lanzona said, would also spur agriculture production. This can be part of a comprehensive agriculture program where farmers are encouraged to plant nutritious food varieties to increase access to them.

“The idea is that focusing on the economy is really a one-way street.  It is more viable to work on human capital now and determine how we bring it to a level that can restore growth,” Lanzona said.

In a separate e-mail, Ateneo de Manila University Associate Professor Geoffrey M. Ducanes told the BusinessMirror that providing food subsidies for poor Filipinos will prevent them from falling deeper into poverty or make them go hungry.

“This is especially important for children of poor households who might become malnourished and whose physical and mental development can be affected,” Ducanes said.

He explained that the spike in inflation and the depreciation of the peso are worrisome when it comes to food prices.

Ducanes said these could increase the price of imported food that Filipinos consume on a daily basis. This includes “imported fruits and vegetables, meat, canned goods, and even sweets.”

The impact of the depreciation of the peso, Ducanes said, would have lingering effects on inflation. This will have a significant impact on the ability of Filipinos to afford commodities, particularly food.

The increase in inflation hurts the poor more, especially if the source of the increase is in food. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said food alone has a weight of 34.8 percent in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all households and as much as 55 percent for the bottom 30 percent.

“The effect of the peso depreciation is of course not limited to inflation, it could also positively affect our exports as they become less expensive in the world market. In assessing the effects of a peso depreciation, this should also be given weight,” Ducanes said.

“Given the further depreciation of the peso in July 2022, we would expect an even higher cost for the same basket this month should the peso depreciation continue to hold,” he also said. In the long term, Ducanes said, the country should strive to increase domestic agricultural productivity. This can be addressed by dealing with the problems in the agricultural sector.

Ducanes cited a need for greater investment in agricultural infrastructure, equipment, and research and development.

He also stressed that the Philippines should keep trade open in order to allow Filipinos to have access to affordable food and non-food items. This allows a steady supply of items that are not supplied domestically and options to source items elsewhere that may be considered cheaper.

Image credits: Junpinzon |

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A Top Trainer Shared His Workout for Building ‘Boulder Shoulders’

In a new video on the Athlean-X channel, strength coach Jeff Cavaliere C.S.C.S. demonstrates a series of exercises that he says will help you build "boulder shoulders" by recruiting all three heads of the deltoid muscle.

He starts off with the dumbbell seesaw press, an alternating overhead press variation where you push one arm up as you're pulling the other down. "Neurologically, we actually function as push-pull machines, so we can get better output by pulling down while we're trying to push up," says Cavaliere.

He recommends doing this for 4 sets, starting with a weight where you can reach failure in the 8 to 10 rep range, then switching to a weight where you'll fail at 6 to 8 reps for the second, third and fourth sets. Then when you're hitting fatigue after the fourth set, finish off by dropping one of the dumbbells and perform over-and-backs, using a little momentum from your legs.

Next up, he demonstrates the cable side lateral row, pulling out across the body and out into abduction, hitting the middle delt. If you don't have access to a cable machine, you can recreate the same pattern of movement with a side-lying lateral raise. Cavaliere prescribes 3 sets of 8 to 10 on each arm. "No need to rest in between; as you're working one arm, you're resting the other," he says.

To hit the rear delt, Cavaliere uses the hip hugger, holding a pair of dumbbells at his side and then bringing them up and behind the body, squeezing at the top. Another rear delt builder, and a staple in Cavaliere's workouts, is the face pull. The key to this movement is to get the elbows level with or back behind the body.

Finally, Cavaliere works the front delt with a stretch front raise performed at an incline. "We can elicit a stronger contraction just by dropping those arms down, which naturally puts them into extension because of the angle of the incline bench," he explains. An alternative to this is the cable stretch front raise. Once again, perform 8 to 10 reps for 3 sets.

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