As states prepare to ban abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned, will companies step in?

  • 22 states are prepared to enact abortion bans if Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
  • Not all employer-based health insurance covers abortions and more could exclude it if SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade.
  • Few companies have taken a stance on abortions days after the SCOTUS draft opinion was leaked.

Among questions emerging since Monday’s leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could overturn Roe v. Wade is where corporations stand on covering abortion in their benefit plans.

The authenticity of the draft, which would pave the way for 22 states to ban abortions, was verified by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. But it said that the draft did not represent the court's final view

In the days since, most major companies have not commented on whether their insurance plans will ensure access to abortion.

Tesla was an outlier. In its 2021 “Impact Report” released Friday, the company said it has been covering "travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek health-care services that are unavailable in their home state" since last year. Tesla couldn't immediately be reached to confirm that the policy includes abortion care.

USA TODAY reached out to other major companies including Microsoft, Oracle, Meta, Walmart and Disney. Microsoft declined to comment while the others did not respond to requests for comment. 

Their silence shouldn’t be interpreted as a final decision, said Jen Stark, the incoming co-director of the Center for Business and Social Justice at Business for Social Responsibility. 

Abortion-rights advocates confront anti-abortion advocates in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on Wednesday.

Texas abortion law prompts some companies to act

When a Texas law took effect in September that banned abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy, some companies acted within days to change their health coverage policies. 

For instance, nine days after it took effect, Salesforce announced it would help relocate employees who were concerned about not having access to reproductive care in their state. One of Salesforce’s 16 offices is in Dallas. 

Other companies with a large Texas-based workforce, such as Citi, acted months after the law went into effect. That now includes Amazon, which announced on Monday that it would cover up to $4,000 in travel expenses for nonlife-threatening medical treatments that include abortion.

But companies including Oracle and Charles Schwab that are headquartered in Texas haven't made any changes to their coverage. Neither company responded to requests for comment. Tesla is also headquartered in Texas.

'PEOPLE WILL TRAVEL':What overturning Roe v. Wade could mean for abortions across state lines

COMPANIES ACT ON ABORTIONS:What Citi's abortion policy means for companies as Supreme Court considers tighter restrictions

The Supreme Court is inching towards overturning Roe v. Wade, according to a leaked draft opinion. How will companies respond?

Will employer-based health insurance cover abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned?

Companies were actively engaging in “what if” conversations ahead of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion, which isn’t expected to be released officially until June, said Stark, who is currently an executive at the Tara Health Foundation, a philanthropic organization aimed at improving health outcomes for women.  

“This leak catalyzes a lot of the planning they were engaging in behind the scenes," Stark said. But some companies may be hesitant to act until the Supreme Court issues a final ruling given the possibility Roe v. Wade won't get overturned, she said.

Stark expects the majority of large companies to make changes in their internal benefits, adding that “it behooves them because this is going to become a talent, mobility and talent acquisition issue.” 

"It will put pressure on companies because employees are going to be asking their companies whether it's covered," said Ushma Upadhyay, an associate professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, a research group at the University of California, San Francisco.

Employers should expect to hear from workers on the issue "whether or not they actually need the service or need their insurance to cover," she added. "It's more about the principle and about respecting all of their employees equally."

Do state laws apply to your company's plan?

At this point, companies are most likely assessing whether their insurance covers abortion procedures at all, said Laurie Sobel, associate director for women’s health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

'A REALLY SCARY TIME':Abortion rights protesters rally across U.S. after Supreme Court draft leak

WHICH STATES WILL BAN ABORTIONS?:If Roe v. Wade is overturned, here's how abortion laws in each state will stand

Eleven states ban private insurance companies from covering abortions, with limited exceptions. Six states require it to be covered by private insurance.  

However, most employer-based health insurance plans are self-funded, so they aren’t subject to state laws that ban or require abortion coverage, Sobel said. So employers have discretion over any abortion coverage in their health plan.  

In 2019, some 3% of firms that offer health benefits excluded abortion coverage in at least some circumstances, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. But it’s unclear how many cover abortions, Sobel added. 

It could become problematic for employees whose plans cover fully cover abortions in one state but not in a neighboring state.

“Then the coverage is somewhat meaningless,” Sobel said, adding that employers need to take that into account as they review their policies, especially if they have employees in one of the 22 states that have restrictive abortion laws ready to go into effect if the Supreme Court draft opinion becomes official. 

Elisabeth Buchwald is a personal finance and markets correspondent for USA TODAY. You can follow her on Twitter @BuchElisabeth and sign up for our Daily Money newsletter here