Does Medicaid coverage matter? A qualitative multi-state study of abortion affordability for low-income women
Dennis A, Manski R, Blanchard K. Does Medicaid coverage matter? A qualitative multi-state study of abortion affordability for low-income women. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 2014; 25 (4): 1571-85.
Medicaid is designed to ensure low-income populations can afford health care. However, not all health services are covered by the program. Most state Medicaid programs restrict abortion coverage, though a small number of state programs offer such coverage. Little is known about how low-income women are affected by differing Medicaid coverage policies regarding abortion. We conducted indepth interviews with 98 low-income women who had abortions. We found that women’s impressions about abortion costs and the availability of Medicaid coverage are generally accurate and that women rely predominantly on abortion facilities for confirmatory cost and coverage information. Additionally, when abortion is out of financial reach, women and the people in their lives experience numerous emotional and financial harms. Policies that aim to ensure abortion is affordable largely prevent these harms, though the availability of Medicaid coverage does not always guarantee access to affordable care. Findings can help advance evidence-based policies.