Few employers change abortion coverage after Dobbs v. Jackson decision

Dive Brief:

  • In the wake of the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, only 8% of large firms offering health insurance reduced or expanded coverage for abortion, according to an analysis by KFF released Feb. 29. 
  • Of the firms that cut or reduced abortion coverage, 3% reported doing so since the ruling, per the survey. Of those that cover abortions, 12% said they added or expanded the benefit after the Supreme Court decision, the survey found. 
  • Only 7% of large firms that provide health benefits said they provide or plan to provide financial assistance for travel expenses, such as airfare and lodging, for enrollees who need to travel out of state for an abortion, per the survey results, while 27% were not sure of their company’s provisions or plans. KFF surveyed 2,100 employers with 200 or more workers from January through July 2023 about their abortion coverage and spoke to mainly human resources or benefits managers.

Dive Insight:

Of the large firms that provide health benefits, 10% don’t cover abortions under any circumstance in their largest plan, 18% cover abortions in limited circumstances, and 32% cover abortion under most or all circumstances, per the survey results. 

However, the results note that 40% of respondents didn’t know if their firms’ largest plans covered abortions, “part of which could be attributed to lack of information about coverage for abortion in plan documents unless abortion is explicitly excluded.” 

At the state level, 10 states have laws prohibiting abortion coverage in state-regulated private plans, most of which include exceptions, and 10 states have policies requiring abortion coverage in those plans, according to a KFF tracker. 

But those laws generally don’t apply to self-funded employer health insurance plans, which are instead regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, KFF notes. Sixty-seven percent of workers at large firms are enrolled in plans that are exempt from state insurance laws, KFF found. 

Companies that announced changes to their benefits or made pledges in support of reproductive healthcare following the June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson decision experienced an 8% uptick in clicks on job postings compared to similar positions at companies that didn’t make those pronouncements, according to an August analysis by Indeed and Glassdoor. The report also found that employers with more women or Democratic-supporting workers were more likely to announce new reproductive health benefits.