Hundreds of thousands of abortions are performed each year in the United States. Although Medicare is often associated with individuals over the age of 65 who are likely past their reproductive years, many people under the age of 65 qualify for Medicare due to disabilities. Medicare benefits may include abortion coverage if specific exceptions and criteria are met for coverage.
What is an Abortion?
An abortion can occur in two main ways: using an abortion pill or through an in-clinic procedure. Both of these methods can be highly effective, and each has their own benefits. In most cases, you can get an abortion five to six weeks after your last menstrual cycle, and it is best to schedule your procedure within the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy if possible to avoid any potential complications.
The abortion pill, also known as a medication abortion, requires the use of two pills taken up to 48 hours apart. The first of these pills contains mifepristone and the second contains misoprostol. Mifepristone causes your body to stop utilizing progesterone, which is one of the main hormones produced during pregnancy. This stops the pregnancy from progressing any further.
The misoprostol is responsible for causing the uterus to empty. This often results in severe cramping and bleeding, and it is quite similar to the process of a miscarriage. After taking the second pill, the bleeding should begin within 24 hours, and the entire abortion process should take approximately 24 hours to complete.
This method of abortion ranges in effectiveness from around 91 percent to 98 percent depending on how many weeks pregnant the woman is at the time of the abortion. The further into the pregnancy the pills are taken, the less effective the medications become. A medication abortion can occur within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, but after that time has elapsed, an in-clinic abortion must be used instead to end the pregnancy.
In-clinic abortions, also known as surgical abortions, are safe and effective procedures when performed by licensed medical professionals. There are a few different types of procedures. Suction abortions, or vacuum aspiration, involves placing a gentle suction on your uterus, which causes the uterus to empty and the pregnancy to end. This is the most common type of in-clinic abortion, and It can be used for up to 14 to 16 weeks after your last menstrual cycle.
Dilation and evacuation abortions are also common, and this uses the same suction device in addition to other medical tools to get the uterus to empty completely and end the pregnancy. These additional tools are often required if your pregnancy has lasted 16 weeks or longer. Both in-clinic options take only five to 10 minutes to complete, and these procedures provide a success rate of over 99 percent. Repeat procedures are very rarely needed.
Medicare Benefits Provide Coverage for Abortions
Medicare recipients are not provided coverage for abortion procedures except for two specific cases. This restriction is due to the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment is a piece of legislation that was introduced in 1997 that prevents federally-funded healthcare providers from offering coverage for abortions. This amendment covers all cases of abortion except for those in which the woman’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest.
If you have questions regarding your coverage, please contact your plan directly for more information.