The number of employers in the U.S. that offer travel benefits for abortion is expected to double throughout the next few years, according to a recent survey. The findings follow the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision by the Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
The survey, conducted by Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company (WTW) in August, included 305 U.S. employers with 4 million employees in total. More than half, or 55%, of the respondents have self-insured health plans, and 9% have fully-insured health plans only. The rest of the respondents have both plans.
WTW found 35% of respondents already offer travel and lodging benefits for abortions, while 16% plan to in 2023 and 21% are considering it.
Of those that already offer abortion travel benefits, 44% have enhanced those benefits and 46% are planning to or are considering enhancing them next year or in the future. Another 86% of employers are aligning their travel and lodging benefits for abortion services 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,” Regina Ihrke, senior director and health, equity and wellbeing leader at WTW, said in a news release. “As always, their primary objective is to serve the needs of their benefit plan enrollees, no matter in which state they reside.”
Most of the plans have limits on abortion travel benefits: 43% have an annual limit, 28% have a lifetime limit and 20% have a limit per occurrence. About two-thirds of respondents, or 64%, will limit expenses to IRS tax-free amounts, WTW said.
For the procedure itself, 93% of employers with fully-insured plans will cover elective abortions by 2023 in states where abortion is permitted. This compares to 82% of employers with self-insured plans.
But with abortion laws consistently 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 for which there are no immediate answers given the ongoing changes in state laws,” she said. “Employers will need to stay aware of developments in order to align benefit programs with organization goals and to best meet employees’ benefit needs.”
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