• Owl Editor

How Roe v. Wade could impact your employee benefits

Updated: Jul 4

Suppose you are one of the 103 million people who get their health insurance through their employer. In that case, you may be curious what insurance benefit changes your employer could be making after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

According to a 2019 survey on employer health benefits, most companies have been covering the procedures under their health plans, As of June this year, 14% of large employers have a travel benefit in place. This means that the employer will pay for their employees' travel expenses if they need to travel out of state for an abortion. Another 25% of large employers are considering this benefit. Employers with at least 20,000 workers were the most likely to provide this benefit.

Since the Great Resignation, companies have been struggling to attract and retain talent. Now they worry about the impact states' anti-abortion laws could have on their workers.

But employers are careful in how they talk about their plans and how they design new travel benefits. They want to avoid any problems, including the possibility that employees might have to pay taxes on benefits related to abortion. However, experts say that companies will likely structure the benefit so it is broader than just for abortion specifically. This way, companies improve the benefits they offer to their employees but there will be less controversy.

For example, JPMorgan told its employees that it would start to cover the cost of travel for all healthcare procedures on July 1. The bank used to only cover travel expenses for a few procedures such as organ transplants and bariatric surgery. But now the benefit covers the cost of traveling more than 50 miles.

Covering abortion for employees in states where it is banned can be risky for employers and the insurance companies that administer their health plans. It could even be risky for individual employees, corporate officers or directors. That's because these people could get into legal trouble if they help someone get an abortion.

Even though there are some uncertainties, there are some companies are focused on recruiting and retaining workers by offering to cover travel expenses for all covered health procedures: Alaska Airlines, Apple, Box.com, Bumble, Comcast-NBC Unniersal, Conde Nast, Dick's Sporting Goods, Disney, Kroger, Levi Strauss, Match Group, Meta, Netflix, Nike, Starbucks, Uber, Warner Bros Discovery, Yelp.

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