Inspired by the biggest names in tech, retail and healthcare, many employers have rolled out reimbursements for abortion-related travel. A July 28 webinar by HR firm Mercer on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ran through the mechanics of these offerings.
Panelists answered a number of questions around access benefits, including how companies can provide abortion travel reimbursements. Even before the Dobbs fallout, insurance companies folded reproductive care and accommodations for travel into health packages, so Reimbursement is possible here, too, they said.
They also discussed employer options for abortion-access benefits. Beyond HRAs, there are wellness accounts, employee assistance programs, and hardship or support funds. Mercer experts urged employers to assess risks, rewards and compliance demands with each option.
But, in addition to the avenues available to realize these endeavors, experts explained how business leaders should be having these conversations with their employees. Katharine Marshall, health plan specialist and principal in Mercer’s Law & Policy Group, offered a compliance-centered approach to the abortion benefits conversations. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, employers may be required to communicate to their staff health plan changes.
Marshall’s colleague, Mercer Senior Health Consultant Rebecca Atkins, encouraged HR pros to consider the conversation through the lens of purpose. How should employers respond to the Dobbs decision in the coming months? Atkins said she thinks about this issue from a “50,000 foot view.”
“Whatever you're saying or not saying — which is a choice — just make sure that you're doing so intentionally and lead with empathy,” Atkins told her virtual audience. “Everyone is listening to what you're saying or not saying, whether those are internal stakeholders, your employees, your customers.”