Amazon has said it will reimburse employees in the USA who travel for a wide range of non-life threatening medical treatments, including elective abortions and transgender care. It will pay up to US$4,000 in travel expenses each year for treatments not available nearby. The travel is only within the USA and not to another country.
Corporate office and warehouse employees and dependents enrolled in Amazon’s Aetna or Premera health plans are eligible for the new benefit, effective to January 1 2022 retroactively.
The new benefits will apply to treatments that are not available inside a 100-mile (161km) radius of an employee’s home and for which virtual options are not available.
The benefit expansion also includes bariatric care, gastric bypass, oncology, congenital anomalies from within 24 months of birth, mental health care and in-patient substance abuse disorder services. The cover includes a travel cost benefit for emergency medical treatments.
The company also offers up to US$10,000 for urgent, life-threatening medical issues.
Amazon is one of the biggest private sector employers in the USA, with 1.1m full and part-time workers in the country. It employs people nationwide, with most workers in California, Texas, and Washington state, home to its global headquarters.
Several other companies have announced plans that ensure staff have access to abortions by covering costs for employees travelling out of state for abortions. Yelp, Apple, Hewlett Packard and Citigroup have stated they will reimburse employees who travel to circumvent local abortion restrictions, in response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states. In Texas which has one of the strictest abortion laws in the country and bans the procedure after six weeks of a pregnancy, a recent study found that 1,400 Texans were travelling out of state for abortions monthly.
The Supreme Court has ruled on a case that could overturn Roe v Wade, a 1973 court ruling that legalised abortion in the USA. Without appeal or national government interventions each USA state could be permitted to determine its own abortion rules, with 26 states expected to limit abortion care or even ban abortions in most cases all together.