The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will impact employee access to reproductive care through employer group health plans in several ways. Markedly, the landmark decision overturned nearly 50 years of legal precedent that allowed women in all states access to abortion procedures. Consequently, the new ruling allows individual states to ban or restrict access to abortion. Meanwhile, some companies are promising to cover abortion-related travel expenses. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court made another significant, markedly less contentious, ruling to block the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) vaccine-or-test emergency temporary standard.

What the Roe v. Wade Decision Means for Employers

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion issue to the state legislature, employers have to consider some immediate implications. Undoubtedly, employers that offer group health plans will need to stay updated on the following changes and issues:

  • The Employer’s State Laws on Abortion – Several states carry pre-Roe v. Wade abortion laws banning the procedure and trigger laws (laws that would automatically ban medically-unnecessary abortion if the court overturned Roe v. Wade). Namely, these include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, and Mississippi. Therefore, employers should know the existing abortion laws in their state.
  • Potential Interpretations of the Law – In the coming days, health plans will need to interpret the scope and language of abortion laws in their state. After all, laws banning abortion may or may not cover certain types of abortion procedures. For example, legislators and health plans need to determine whether there will be allowances for medical procedures related to miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies.
  • Opinions of Medical Service Providers – Importantly, medical service providers will have to judge claims they receive depending on state law and individual situations. In turn, these service providers will communicate with covered employers about how they will handle individualized claims. Factors may include criminal vs. civil bans or fully insured vs. self-funded health plans.
  • Medical Travel Expense Coverage – Ultimately, employers may decide whether to pay travel expenses so employees can access reproductive care like abortions.

Additionally, employers must be wary of how the abortion issue relates to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other employment laws. Such laws protect individuals from employment discrimination based on several protected classes, including sex or a pregnancy-related condition.

Employers Who Are Improving Worker Access to Reproductive Care

In response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, several large companies in the U.S. have stated they will reimburse employees who need to travel across state lines to access legal abortion services. Namely, these companies include:

  • Disney,
  • Meta,
  • Tesla,
  • Netflix,
  • Amazon,
  • Starbucks,
  • Microsoft, and
  • Apple

Indeed, some already covered abortion in their group plans but have since expanded benefits to include travel expenses.