4 Ways Employers Can Reassure Their Employees About Healthcare In A Post-Roe Environment

In the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, many women are thinking harder about where they live and work. What are the implications of this for employers? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Kara Govro, Chief HR Legal Expert, on Quora:

With the overturn of Roe v. Wade, many women (61% of whom self-identify as “pro-choice”) are thinking harder about where they live and work now and where they are willing to live and work in the future. Women are not only concerned about their ability to get an abortion if their usual method of contraception fails, but also deeply worried about being denied life-saving procedures that may be necessary in the case of ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, or other pregnancy-related complication, all of which are quite common.

Because of this, abortion restrictions are not just a deterrent for women who want to avoid pregnancy, but also those who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant, and those who are concerned about their family members’ ability to obtain appropriate healthcare.

This presents a potentially serious talent acquisition and retention problem for employers who are in states with abortion restrictions or where it appears that abortion restrictions may be passed in the near future.

Employers in these states are likely to experience turnover that is directly related to this issue. While turnover of female employees may be higher, some turnover of male employees should also be expected, as they move to states where their female partners or daughters are more likely to have options in the case of unintended pregnancy and to receive appropriate healthcare when pregnant.

Employers located in states with abortion restrictions are also likely to see a drop in qualified applicants for the same reasons. Many applicants who previously would have considered moving anywhere in the country for a desirable position are reconsidering. Many are also newly concerned with raising children in these states.

The healthcare industry may be hit especially hard, as facilities in states with new abortion restrictions will likely see an exodus of medical practitioners who are not interested in facing potential jail time for providing necessary medical care.

That being said, there are some things employers can do to mitigate fallout:

  • Employers that can should consider becoming remote-first or at least remote-friendly. This is solid advice in today’s market regardless of abortion restrictions, but will be even more useful now, as it allows women and the people who love them to stay in areas where they feel safe.
  • For business owners that are currently located in a state that restricts abortion access but are perhaps not ready to start registering their business in many states, they may want to consider setting up shop in at least one state that doesn’t restrict abortion access and isn’t likely to do so anytime soon.
  • Employers that can should work to modify their company benefits program to cover out-of-state medical care, if they don’t already. This may be more or less difficult depending on how a business’ health plan is set up and whether the organization is self-insured. If you are considering options outside of a group health plan, such as a policy designed to specifically provide coverage for medically necessary travel, best practice is to have benefits legal counsel review it to confirm you aren’t inadvertently creating another group health plan. You’ll also want to make sure those benefits get the proper tax treatment.
  • For employers that think their organization is at risk for high turnover and low applicant volume, speak up about what you’re going to do or at least what you’re looking into. Employees and applicants are looking for transparency and reassurance. Keep in mind that you can’t be everything to everyone, and any position you take (even silence) is going to rub some people the wrong way. Ultimately, your organization’s values, resources, and bottom line (that bottom line being highly influenced by your ability to retain and attract talent in a post-Roe country) will need to drive your response to this issue.

The full impact of the overturn of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is yet to be seen. We can’t be sure how stringently, or creatively, state restrictions will be enforced, and if any of that enforcement will trickle down to employers. We also don’t know how drastically this will affect employees’ decisions about where they are willing to work and whom they are willing to work for. But uncertainty about the net results aside, we know that things have changed, and employers who want to ensure that they remain competitive should start thinking long term before it’s too late.