August 2020

Abortion as a Catastrophic Health Expenditure in the United States

Zuniga C, Thompson T-A, Blanchard K. Abortion as a Catastrophic Health Expenditure in the United States. Womens Health Issues. August 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.whi.2020.07.001

Purpose: Abortion is a critical reproductive health service that is difficult for many in the United States to afford owing to policies aimed at restricting insurance coverage of this basic health service. This article assesses whether the resulting high out-of-pocket cost for abortion could be considered a catastrophic health expenditure, and explores potential policies that could prevent households from experiencing financial hardship or impoverishment.

Methods: We assessed if the average costs of a first and second trimester abortion procedure in 2016 were catastrophic health expenditures by applying a 40% threshold to the monthly nonsubsistence income of households earning their state's median income in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

Results: The out-of-pocket cost for a first trimester abortion procedure would have been catastrophic for households earning their state's median monthly income in 39 states. In nine of these states, the average cost was between 100% and 199% of a household's nonsubsistence income, and in another nine states, this cost was at least double a household's income. The out-of-pocket cost of a second trimester abortion would have been catastrophic for households earning their state's median monthly income in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

Conclusions: In a majority of states, the out-of-pocket cost of an abortion is financially catastrophic for households earning no more than their state's median monthly income. The United States should implement policies to create or improve health care safety nets to guarantee abortion care for all individuals, regardless of their income or insurance status.

Tagged with Abortion, United States