“Everyone wants to be in compliance with laws, but there are different ways you can react to what’s happening around you in the macro environment,” said Samantha Wellington, TriNet’s executive vice president of business affairs and chief legal officer. “Every step you take says a lot about you as an employer.”
Disney, Target, Netflix, JPMorgan Chase and other major corporations quickly announced that their health care plans would cover abortion travel. after the court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
With operations across the country, the biggest companies were used to juggling jurisdictions, and the nature of self-insured health plans, favored by many large employers, means they are not regulated by states. Many of these companies already cover medical travel, including abortion travel, through their plans.
But for smaller employers, the calculations are more complicated. They have fewer resources and tend to have fully insured health care plans, in which insurance companies assume financial responsibility for claims. These plans are subject to state insurance laws, which may limit their ability to cover the costs of travel for an abortion in states that have restrictions or bans.
Abortion is now banned in these states. See where the laws have changed.
And while more than 100 large companies have taken public action in response to abortion bans — from covering abortion travel to donating to organizations fighting for reproductive rights — only half as many companies with fewer than 500 employees have take similar measures, according to a tracker. from Rhia Ventures, an investment fund focused on reproductive rights.
And yet they make up a large portion of U.S. employers: Of the roughly 32.6 million businesses in the United States, fewer than 21,000 have 500 or more employees, according to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.
TriNet was able to respond quickly to the challenges presented by Dobbs decision because of his “deep expertise” in benefits design and “the types of products and offerings that small and medium-sized businesses need to be relevant as an employer in today’s marketplace,” Wellington said. And the company’s scalable service model enables TriNet to deploy new products quickly.
In addition to travel reimbursement for medical care, TriNet is offering its 23,000 customers the option to help employees with adoption travel expenses. TriNet will act as the plan’s administrator, processing claims and handling reimbursement payments, which allows employees seeking assistance to remain anonymous to their employers.
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The element of anonymity is critical since companies that help employees seek out-of-state abortion care may be at risk of criminal liability in Texas, Missouri and several other states that seek to target those who “aid and abet” abortion.
“From the customer’s perspective, they’re able to say, ‘We don’t have that data,'” Wellington said.
Derek Steer, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Mode, a data analytics software company, was one of the first customers to contact TriNet after Dobbs decision. With 58 of Mode’s 250 workers in states that have already passed or are moving toward abortion bans, Steer knew employees would want solutions.
“We’re in a time now where people expect their companies to do a lot for them,” Steer said. “When they feel like the government has failed them, they look to businesses.”
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Ensuring anonymity had to be a top priority if the company pursued a travel benefit, he said. But as a small company, “this is something that logistically is almost impossible for us to do,” Steer said. “Without the help of someone like TriNet, I don’t know that we would be able to achieve the same kind of programming that people are looking for.”
Steer said he sees the benefit as a way to protect the health and safety of his employees while ensuring equal access to medical care. Offering attractive benefits also helps smaller companies like Mode keep up with fierce competition for talent, he noted.
“Part of getting the best talent is about being a leading employer in terms of the benefits we offer, but increasingly it’s about being an employer that’s willing to take a stand on issues keys that people care about,” Steer said. “This is one such case where we can do the right thing by our team and in doing so, be an attractive place to work for those people, especially when their alternatives are some of these big, multi-resourced companies. .”