New Analysis Reveals Gaps in Abortion Coverage for Employees with Employer-Sponsored Plans

New analysis of KFF’s 2019 Employer Benefits Survey finds that 10% of workers covered by employer-sponsored health insurance are employed at a firm that has asked their insurer or third party administrator to exclude abortion coverage from their health plan. Employer-sponsored coverage is the primary source of health benefits in the U.S., covering 153 million Americans.

Four percent of covered workers are employed at firms that exclude coverage of abortion under any circumstance and 6% are employed at firms that exclude abortion coverage except under some limited circumstances. Covered workers at the largest firms are more likely to work at a firm that excludes abortion coverage than those at smaller firms. Lack of coverage means that people seeking abortion services must fully bear the cost of their abortion, which on average is around $500.

Overall, 3% of firms that offer health benefits reported that they exclude coverage of abortion in some or all circumstances.  Employers who do not explicitly exclude abortion coverage may not necessarily include coverage, and some employers with abortion coverage may not cover it in all circumstances.

Congress is considering including COBRA subsidies in its next coronavirus relief package to help workers who lose their jobs keep their employer coverage. One of the sticking points of the debates has reportedly been whether or not the legislation will include a stipulation that federal funds cannot be used to pay for abortion coverage. Given that many employers do not know whether their plan covers abortion, this restriction could pose some logistical hurdles to implementation or restrictions on abortion coverage.