Large Health Care Employers Won't Change Benefits in Wake of Roe Overturn


Kaiser Permanente Washington and Providence said Friday they will not change worker benefits, such as added abortion travel coverage, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn the fundamental right to an abortion established in Roe v. Wade.

Kaiser Permanente Washington provides abortion services among its portfolio of women's health services. Employees also have access to these services in Washington. A Kaiser Permanente Washington spokeswoman would not confirm if staffers would have access to these services in states where abortion is no longer legal.

As a Catholic health care organization, Providence does not provide nonemergency pregnancy termination, but its affiliated Swedish Medical Center provides abortion services.

"The Providence family of organizations will continue to comply with all laws applicable to employer-sponsored health plans and no changes to our plans are anticipated in response to the Supreme Court's decision," Providence said in a statement.

UW Medicine said Friday that it is working with the Attorney General's Office to understand to what extent it can provide abortion services to people visiting out of Washington. However, UW Medicine said it will continue to teach reproductive health care to students.

It also said its Family Medicine Residency Network, which includes residents in Idaho and Wyoming through universities based in those states, might be implicated. Idaho has an anti-abortion trigger law that will take effect in 30 days. Wyoming has a similar trigger law that would go into effect once the ruling happened.

Four percent of abortion services happen at a hospital setting, according to Providence. But the court's decision may have a chilling effect on abortion providers even in states where abortion won't be criminalized, such as Washington, said Denise Diskin, executive director of The Qlaw Foundation, an LGBTQ+ rights advocacy organization.

"Even if the law hasn't changed in Washington, the temperature changes," Diskin said. Health care providers "are more subject to harassment."