Hey Jane gets covered: Telemedicine abortion provider inks contracts with Blues plans

Hey Jane is now accepting insurance, marking what the company says is a first for telemedicine abortion providers and a pivotal move to expand access to the service.

In 2020, 53% of all facility-based abortions in the U.S. were medication abortions. The same year, telemedicine usage increased drastically, is some states 15x pre-pandemic levels. Following the Supreme Court Dobbs decision, telemedicine has taken on a new role by decreasing barriers to abortions. One barrier that remains for many is cost. Today, Hey Jane announced coverage with major insurance providers to decrease the price of the procedure.  

“Since launch, we’ve helped more than 25,000 patients get the care they need,” Gaby Santana, chief revenue officer at Hey Jane, said in a press release. “But we also know there’s a lot more to be done to truly expand access. When you look at the sweeping restrictions in our post-Roe world, it’s become evident that patients need as many choices as possible, and affordability is paramount. Hey Jane is actively working to expand the capacity of the entire abortion ecosystem and insurance is just the beginning.”

Empire BlueCross BlueShield in New York, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield in Connecticut, Aetna in eight states and Sana Benefits in nine will now be accepted through Hey Jane. Without coverage, Hey Jane’s wraparound care service is on a sliding scale reflecting patient ability to pay. Peak price rings up at $449. While payer coverage varies between plans, the new coverage marks a shift in the abortion landscape.

Hey Jane’s complete care model includes emotional support and online community before, during and after medication abortions. The telemedicine provider also partners with abortion funds for patients unable to use insurance to cover their treatment or who are required to travel for care.

“Sana’s mission is to make quality health care understandable, accessible and affordable,” Will Young, co-founder and CEO of Sana Benefits, said in a press release. “In abortion care, as in so many other areas of healthcare, we believe expanding telehealth’s role is a huge lever for achieving all three of those arms.”

The New York-based telehealth provider currently operates in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Washington and has begun the application process for Medicaid in the states in which it operates.

Recent legislation in New York requires commercial insurance plans to cover abortion services without copays or deductibles while California law prohibits plans from imposing copays, deductibles or other cost-sharing requirements for abortion and abortion-related services.

Hey Jane strategically launched in locations that border more restrictive states, such as Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois and Washington, Santana told Fierce Healthcare. In these states, she said, brick-and-mortar clinics are being inundated with patients, providing a need for virtual providers to step in.

"I have colleagues who say cryptic things like, 'The weather's really nice in New Mexico right now. You should go check it out.' Or, 'I've heard traveling to Colorado is really nice this time of year,'" an anonymous OB-GYN told NPR.

As of January of this year, Colorado has reportedly seen double the amount of patients seeking abortions since 2021. Idaho recently banned abortions at all stages of pregnancy and banned adults from helping minors cross the state border to access abortion without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Santana sees Hey Jane and its new coverage stepping in for Colorado or Washington residents seeking the procedure but unable to access treatment with the new inundation of patients to states maintaining abortion access.

While states have proposed travel bans to prevent pregnant people crossing borders to access an abortion, none have been successful. States attempting to ban the use of medication abortions have been overruled by the Supreme Court in a recent ruling.  

“Expanding access during this pivotal time is a top priority for us, and that includes expanding in more states,” Santana said. “We plan to expand into more states this year where medication abortion is legal.”

Other abortion news broke yesterday after Freeman Health System in Joplin, Missouri, and the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, both denied care to a woman in need of an emergency abortion following a preterm premature rupture of membranes.

While doctors informed the patient that the 17-week pregnancy was no longer viable, they also stated that despite a risk of infection, hemorrhage and potential death, they could not provide care because "hospital policies prohibited treatment that could be considered an abortion." The woman was forced to travel to an abortion clinic in Illinois to access treatment.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced investigations of the two hospitals, stating that neither offered necessary stabilizing care, a violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.