Jan 30, 2020 - Health

The economics of abortion

In this image, a caricature of a woman touches her head.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The economic consequences of medical decisions can be enormous. One of the most financially momentous medical decisions that any doctor can make is to deny a woman an abortion.

Driving the news: A new NBER report looks at the difference in financial outcomes between women who narrowly qualified for abortions and those who narrowly didn't. The report finds "a large and persistent increase in financial distress" for the latter group.

Why it matters: It's estimated that roughly one out of every four American women will have an abortion during her reproductive years, but the procedure remains largely taboo.

A separate report from Rhia Ventures reveals just how much ignorance around the subject reigns:

  • 69% of women with health insurance currently do not know whether their coverage includes abortion.
  • Only 37% of benefits managers and human resource leaders interviewed for the Rhia report knew if their health plans covered abortion.

By the numbers: Women in the NBER study who were turned away from having an abortion were 81% more likely than their abortion-receiving counterparts to be evicted or declared bankrupt.

Of note: The NBER report was based on 1,000 women seeking abortions at 30 clinics in 21 states. Rhia based its research on different sources, including interviewing managers at 39 companies.

Go deeper: How many steps it takes to get an abortion in each state

Go deeper