The number of U.S. employers offering abortion travel benefits is expected to double in the next few years, according to a recent research. The findings follow the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
The survey, conducted by Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company in August, included 305 US employers with a total of 4 million employees. More than half, or 55%, of respondents have self-insured health plans, and 9% have only fully insured health plans. The remaining respondents have both plans.
WTW found that 35% of respondents already offer travel and accommodation benefits for abortions, while 16% plan to in 2023 and 21% are considering it.
Of those that already offer abortion travel benefits, 44% have increased those benefits, and 46% plan or are considering improving them in the next year or in the future. Another 86 percent of employers coordinate their travel and accommodation benefits for abortions with other procedures, the survey found.
“As a new landscape of state laws emerges, many employers are determining whether and how to support employees who seek abortion services,” said Regina Irke, senior director and health, equity and wellness leader at WTW, in news release. “As always, their primary goal is to serve the needs of their benefit plan enrollees, no matter what state they live in.”
Most of the plans have limits on abortion travel benefits: 43% have an annual limit, 28% have a lifetime limit, and 20% have an event limit. About two-thirds of those surveyed, or 64 percent, would limit spending to IRS tax-free amounts, WTW said.
As for the procedure itself, 93% of employers with fully insured plans will cover elective abortions by 2023 in states where abortion is legal. This compares to 82% of employers with self-insured plans.
But because abortion laws are constantly changing, it’s important for employers to stay informed, said Courtney Stubblefield, senior director of health and benefits at WTW.
“The Dobbs decision raises questions for employers that do not have immediate answers given the ongoing changes in state laws,” she said. “Employers will need to stay abreast of developments to align benefits programs with organizational goals and best meet employee benefits needs.”
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