Abortion travel – the new essential employee benefit

With the elimination of federal protection for female employees seeking abortion, companies are taking measures to protect their workers in the likely event that some states complicate matters for workers. Modifying the employee health plan and employee leave policy, if necessary, is considered the most effective way to attract and retain female workers in states that are affected.

This post lists key considerations in bullet point format.

  • From the employee medical plan perspective, nothing will change except the location of abortion services.
  • Some states’ abortion services facilities are expanding as a safe haven for abortions for women who live in other states who are expected to lose access to this service.
  • Employee benefit laws allow employers to cover the cost of the time off from work and travel to an out-of-state facility.
  • The new problem for workers is taking time off from work and the travel expense in getting to the out-of-state treatment facility.
  • Employment laws allow or require employers to treat time off from work for abortion the same as any other medical issue.
  • This travel cost can be paid as a tax-free employee benefit under a health reimbursement plan or another type of accountable reimbursement plan.
  • Lower-paid workers cannot afford to lay out money and wait for reimbursement, so additional benefit plan accommodations may be necessary.
  • Privacy and speed of response are key to making this benefit effective. A reliable third party employee benefit plan administrator is essential.
  • Large employers known for responsive employee benefits will be the first adapters of this benefit plan change while small employers usually lag the market in benefit plan changes.
  • Most of these benefit plan administrators who will provide this expanded service serve only larger employers.
  • Freedom Benefits can act quickly to modify an existing employee medical plan to add this feature to a small company or private employer down to just one employee.
  • Freedom Benefits may provide the complete service from the employee benefit plan design to electronic transfer of funds in the administration of the benefit to smaller private companies.
  • Cost savings in smaller company benefit plan administration is best accomplished by bundling services, especially with payroll accounting.

For more information, request a free consultation with our benefit plan adviser.

New small business HRAs increase options but raise privacy concerns

A range of new federal regulations open the door for resurgence of small business Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) for 2020. These low cost

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, high efficiency health plans have been mostly dormant since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The new plans offer the potential of lower costs


, lower taxes and increased employee satisfaction. But they also bring legal risks and privacy concerns for the employees of small businesses.

HRAs vary from one employer to the next and are highly customizable. That makes it difficult to make blanket statements about their effectiveness in all small business situations. It is best to consider the options and benefits on a case by case basis. Freedom Benefits founder Tony Novak CPA explains more in this short video:

A free no-obligation consultation is available to discuss the options for your business. Please use the chat link on the bottom right corner to request follow-up or click here to schedule a call.


New options for small business health plans

Three major changes in federal law are rocking the boat on small business health plans. This blog posts summarizes the three most significant changes this past year.

CHANGE #1: No more individual mandate penalty in most states.

WHAT IT MEANS: Without a steep tax penalty for not having a specific type of health insurance

, some people are free to consider a wider range of options. Some of these options will save money and expand choices.

WHAT FREEDOM BENEFITS IS DOING: Our financial planning conversations with clients include a wider range of options.

CHANGE #2: Expansion of short term health insurance.

WHAT IT MEANS: This adds a simple

, fast, cheap coverage option for healthy people who are in life transitions.

WHAT FREEDOM BENEFITS IS DOING: Building relationships with insurance companies that offer these short term medical insurance products, reviewing specific products, expanding online enrollment

CHANGE #3: Health Reimbursement Arrangements may pay for individual insurance.

WHAT IT MEANS: Small employers are no longer persuaded to offer a group health plan. The same advantages or more

WHAT FREEDOM BENEFITS IS DOING: Emphasizing the HRA’s ability to control health costs for the employer, the ability to increase choice and value to the employee and a new tax advantage. For 2020 employee benefit plans, we include an HRA option at no additional cost in all small business benefit plans and all small business clients where we handle payroll processing.

New cost saving options for some small business health plans.

Freedom from birth control coverage requirements

Qualifying small business employers can now customize their benefits and save money in the process.

Effective immediately, the Trump administration will allow religious groups, nonprofits, some small businesses and some other employers to opt out of an Obamacare requirement to provide birth-control coverage for their employees. Exempt employers include “religious employers”, houses of worship, health sharing ministries, a few employers who got religious exemptions, non-profit hospitals, some institutions of higher education. This is the first time since 2011 that employers were allowed this option. Two separate rules issued by the Departments of Health and Human Services

, Labor, and Treasury finalized exemptions for employers that have religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage. One HHS rule called the “Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act” allows employers to claim “sincerely held” religious objects while a second HHS rule called the “Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act” offers another exemption on moral grounds.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 in the Hobby Lobby case that the Affordable Care Act couldn’t require employers to offer insurance coverage for certain birth control methods they equate with abortion. The court decision applied only to private corporations such as the family-owned companies  that challenged the law. Women working for those companies could still get morning-after pills and IUDs from other sources

, such as the government or private insurance plans.

Freedom Benefits can help small business employers modify their employee health plans to exclude this expense and save money through insurance or a health reimbursement arrangement. Likewise

, we can steer employees who need this coverage to alternate sources.