Companies scramble to develop employee abortion policies

There is no clear plan for corporate engagement on abortion. After scores of companies came forward to announce they would cover travel costs for their employees to have abortions, executives had to act quickly to both iron out the mechanics of these policies and explain them to a workforce. privacy and security conscious work.

Few companies commented directly on the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights. Many more have responded by expanding their healthcare policies to cover travel and other expenses for employees who cannot have an abortion close to home, now that the procedure is banned in at least eight states and that other bans are expected to come into force soon. About half of the country obtains its health care coverage from employers, and the wave of new employer commitments has raised concerns among some workers about confidentiality.

“It’s a doomsday scenario if individuals have to take their healthcare choices to their employers,” said Dina Fierro, global vice president of cosmetics company Nars, echoing a concern many workers have expressed. on social media lately.

Employers are scrambling to prepare for potential legal challenges to their health care policies, as well as respond to scrutiny of their past political donations to politicians who have backed abortion bans. Match Group, for example, whose former chief executive Shar Dubey announced a fund in September to support abortion access in partnership with Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, has donated more than $100,000 to Republican Attorneys General Association last year, as reported in Popular Information. Match Group declined to comment.

Among the companies that said they would help employees who have to travel for abortions are Disney, Macy’s, H&M, Nordstrom, Nike, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Snap, which joins a larger group including Starbucks and Yelp who had previously contracted to do so. Both Salesforce and Google have said they will move employees who want to leave states where abortion is banned.

These employers only cover health care for a fraction of the millions of people living in states where abortion is or soon will be banned. And other major employers have not made public statements regarding employee assistance. The nation’s largest private employer, Walmart, declined to comment on the Supreme Court’s decision. Other major employers like Target, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines did not respond to requests for comment.

Some marketing experts note that companies that intervene are likely to face backlash. “Consumers and employees don’t want companies to ‘take a stand’ – unless companies take their position and cause,” Kimberly Whitler, who teaches marketing at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, said in an email.

To allay concerns about potential privacy issues, many employers offering new abortion benefits aim to allow workers and others covered by their health care plans to obtain travel reimbursement without disclosing anything to their managers. In some cases, this means people submit claims to their insurance companies just as they would for other medical procedures. Yelp, for example, explained to its employees in April that its travel benefit is managed by its insurer.

“No one at Yelp will ever receive information about who has had a claim or received a refund,” a Yelp spokeswoman said.

Aetna, one of the largest insurance companies, said it would “ensure that our data practices comply with all applicable laws protecting the privacy of our members”. UnitedHealth declined to comment specifically on privacy concerns. Anthem, Cigna and Humana did not respond to requests for comment.

Expedia said travel costs would be reimbursed by medical plan providers and employees could use their time off without giving a reason. BuzzFeed said that instead of reimbursing abortion-related expenses, it would offer allowances that would be approved by the head of its human resources department — someone, the company said, who has been trained to handle confidential issues.

PayPal said it has an employee advocacy team that provides confidential information to employees on sensitive issues, including the use of their health care benefits. Starbucks employees have third-party contacts, called advocates, whom employees can approach anonymously to ask questions about health care benefits, ensuring they don’t have to divulge details about their medical needs to officials.

“It can range from ‘I have knee surgery scheduled and I want to make the right decision on a plan’, to getting advice on what they should do if they intend to use the advantage fertility and everything else,” Reggie said. Borges, company spokesperson.

Some employers have laid out the details of their new healthcare policies in memos to staff. Impossible Foods, for example, said that in addition to travel for abortions, it would also cover accommodation, meals and childcare. Wells Fargo said that starting July 1, its health care plans will include reimbursement for travel and accommodation costs for “legal abortion-related services.” (Patagonia said it would also cover bail for employees arrested while peacefully protesting the Supreme Court ruling.)

Many other companies were still fine-tuning their plans. Culture Amp, for example, an employee survey company, said in announcing up to $2,000 in reimbursements for abortion-related travel that it was looking at how to “minimize information disclosure in the process of repayment”.

The company said Monday it was still getting final confirmation that flight or gas expenses could be routed for approval to the human resources team rather than managers.

“You shouldn’t have to tell your manager you’re going to have an abortion,” said Aubrey Blanche, the company’s senior manager.

Currently, no prohibiting state tries to prosecute women who travel out of state for an abortion, but some legal experts believe such laws may be possible in the future, as are attempts to use existing laws to continue abortion journeys. Republican lawmakers in Texas have already announced plans to introduce legislation penalizing companies that pay for out-of-state abortion travel.

“We are going to see creative attempts by people deeply committed to stopping abortion to use existing laws and pass new laws to stop as many abortions as possible, including those funded by corporations,” said David Cohen, professor of constitutional law at Drexel University. “Companies are preparing for the fight.

And some executives seemed prepared for it. On Friday, Marc Benioff, chief executive of Salesforce, wrote in a Tweeter“I believe CEOs have a responsibility to take care of their employees, no matter what.”

Lora Kelley contributed report.

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