Note from the author: This is a strictly non-partisan commentary.
Changes stemming from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V. Wade extend to the Employee Benefits sector. And no one is talking about it. Business owners offering to cover the cost of abortion procedures are also challenged with covering travel and lodge expenses for employees, when their headquarters is located within abortion-banned states. Companies like Netflix, Alphabet, and Microsoft added these expenditures to their benefits package offering.
How does this affect mid-size and small business owners who are unsure if they want to offer the benefit?
For fully insured health plans, the insurance company may or may not cover abortion procedures based on state laws alone. You may be “okay” if you have a plan that has a nationwide network, but you should be familiar with your state’s limits on abortion laws. If your business is located within a state where abortions are banned, if you have a religious or another personal reason not to offer these benefits, you are not required to offer any benefits or reimbursement as far as costs or travel. If you are in a state where abortions are legal, the procedure would be covered under the reproductive section of the policy.
However, with self-funded insurance plans, the employer retains more control. Self-funded plans are governed by ERISA Exemption rules. This means that self-funded insurance plans supersede state regulations. And while this does not allow coverage for abortions in states where it’s banned or illegal, it doesn’t prohibit employers from offering coverage for abortion travel expenses. At the same time, an employer has the right to choose not to cover either one.
When offering employee benefits, you want to make sure that you are offering a benefit that your employees want, need and can use. The ultimate goal of employee benefits is to keep your employees happy, as well as keeping the turnover rate down. So, you do have options as an employer, whether you support or are against abortion laws.