Health plans

Threat of Criminal Charges Alters Health Plans Abortion Considerations

Major brands like Starbucks, Tesla and Amazon have doubled down on promises to continue abortion coverage following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, including employee travel coverage in prohibiting states.

  • But the way some states are threatening criminal prosecution for facilitating the process could give many other employers pause, potentially creating a confusing patchwork of benefits and gaps in employer-sponsored care.

Why is this important: It’s unclear how things will develop for some of the 155 million non-elderly Americans who have health coverage through their jobs, adding another wrinkle to an already turbulent job market.

What they say : “There seems to be an open question with criminal charges and whether these (policies) would be considered helping someone who is having an abortion,” said Joelle Abramowitz, an economist at the University of Michigan who studies the health insurance, at Axios.

  • “The only way to really find out is to put those laws in place, challenge them, and take them through the court system,” she said.

State of play: Self-funded health plans – which most big companies have – are governed by federal law known as ERISA which overrides state laws that regulate benefits.

Between the lines: A company probably can’t get in trouble just because it has a policy covering abortion or related travel expenses. But it is possible that the employer will be forced to share information as part of a criminal investigation.

  • “HIPAA may not serve as a shield to protect patient and plan information if the plan faces a subpoena or court order in connection with legitimate state law enforcement activity. “said Seth Perretta, an attorney at Groom Law Group, which advises employers. and health insurers.
  • Travel reimbursements that exceed IRS limits could also compromise patient privacy.
  • “Excess amounts will generally be taxable income to the employee,” Perretta said. “As a result, additional business actors may need to be involved, such as the payroll department, which, in turn, could increase the risk of exposure of potential private employee information.”

Enlarge: Small and medium enterprises are only beginning to unravel the pitfalls.

  • For example, Chili Piper, a Brooklyn tech startup, has employees working remotely in nearly every state.
  • The company has created a $4,000 benefit to cover travel, accommodations and other costs related to out-of-state reproductive or trans-affirming health care, said Tyler Parson, vice- chairman of the people of the company.
  • Now he is in talks with Planned Parenthood about an arrangement in which the health organization would send Chili Piper anonymized invoices for reproductive care rendered to ensure confidentiality.

Do not forget : Many employers are just emerging from two years of intense activity navigating Labor standards COVID-19 and vaccination requirements.

  • Many may now have to review benefits, paid vacation policies and privacy practices if half of the states restrict abortion.

The bottom line: Some employers have made bold statements following the Supreme Court ruling.

  • But, but, but:“I wouldn’t be surprised to see some employers stop covering abortion given this potential risk,” Abramowitz said.