July 13, 2022
Until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, there was a Federal law governing access to abortion and other reproductive services that set a common policy across the country. Now those decisions have been moved to the states and there will be a wide variety of laws and regulations that will likely impact employer-sponsored benefits. To address both employee healthcare, as well as questions from other stakeholders, there are a handful of considerations to help support their employees access to healthcare.
The landscape of employer actions is diverse, ranging from statements to changes to benefit policy including helping their employees with travel costs should they need access to reproductive services not available near their home.
While the guidance and leadership decisions are still evolving, several Aon leaders have given their insight and expertise to help employers make decisions to navigate this first wave of change.
What is top of mind for employers right now?
Kerri M. Willis, senior vice president of U.S. Health Solutions at Aon, says that many employers are focusing on how this decision impacts their employee benefit offerings. “The questions they’re prioritizing are which changes they need to consider, if any, given this decision, and what their risks are,” she says. “The disparate state laws present complexity and potential risks, and companies need to assess the level of risk they are willing to assume.”
How are some employers rethinking or expanding their benefits strategy?
How employers are approaching their benefits strategy in light of the Supreme Court’s decision varies, according to Willis. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to think about this change and what it means for employees,” she says. “When considering whether to update company benefits, employers should follow the same guideposts they would on other benefit decisions: take into account their culture, their business and the benefits and perspectives competitors are offering, along with their overarching employee strategy.”
Whether competing for talent or clients, benefits offerings and whether a company takes a stance on the issue can create signals for the market.
Beyond that, this moment may prompt employees to ask about other benefits that align with their values, resonate with the workforce, or provide more support in light of the Roe v. Wade decision. “That might include family planning or family care benefits, travel benefits reproductive healthcare or gender confirmation procedures, or expanded mental health benefits,” says Willis.
Would you expect this decision to become a factor in some companies’ location or relocation decisions?
Shelly MacConnell, senior vice president of health and benefits, U.S. Health Solutions at Aon, notes that this is a shifting issue and companies have not yet determined how the decision will affect their physical footprint. “This is an emerging topic of consideration for some employers,” says MacConnell. “We are monitoring the extent to which this may impact business strategy. We have had other conversations with clients in light of other decisions in response to specific state legislation, such as Senate Bill 8 in Texas (which bans abortions around six weeks gestational age, only allowing them in a documented medical emergency) in September 2021, and some employers have offered to provide financial support to employees who wish to relocate.”
What should employers know about healthcare providers’ strategies and plans?
Sheena Singh, senior vice president of national healthcare industry practice at Aon, notes that there are several implications of this decision for healthcare providers in all states. The legal landscape and protection from litigation requires further clarity.
“Providers in states where abortion is banned or severely restricted could risk their medical licensure or be subject to criminal charges when navigating evolving definitions for legal abortion, such as in cases of medical emergency or ectopic pregnancies,” she says.
Editor’s note: Aon’s own benefit policy provides a travel reimbursement element for people seeking healthcare outside a home state.
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