Amazon has told its employees that it will cover travel costs for non-life-threatening medical care, including abortions, for up to $4,000, Reuters reports. The reimbursement plan is being made available retroactively up to the beginning of 2022, allowing employees who have had to travel for medical care in the last four months to take advantage of the plan, too.
Amazon sent employees an update about the travel benefit just before news of a leaked draft ruling from the Supreme Court that stands to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, both of which secured federal abortion rights in the U.S. A total of 13 states have trigger laws that would greatly limit or entirely ban abortion access if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
Last month, after Texas passed its own anti-abortion law, Yelp announced that it would be covering medical travel costs for its employees. Citigroup put a similar policy in place in March. Lyft and Uber, meanwhile, have offered to pay legal fees for any drivers sued for helping transport people to abortion care.
Only employees with benefits — Amazon’s new policy will apply if the proper medical care is not available within 100 miles of an employee’s home. It’s not just abortion that’s covered under the policy, either; any non-life-threatening care that requires travel is eligible for reimbursement.
According to Amazon’s memo, only employees or dependents covered under either Premera or Aetna health plans will be able to take advantage of the $4,000 reimbursement. While these healthcare plans are available to all full-time Amazon employees — both those that work in warehouses and in the company’s offices — but it’s unclear whether or not delivery drivers, who are contracted through third-party companies, will be able to access the new policy.
When asked whether or not delivery drivers would be eligible for this reimbursement, an Amazon spokesperson said:
“I can confirm the accuracy of reports that Amazon has expanded the travel and lodging benefit to cover travel for a number of non-life-threatening conditions if a provider is not available within 100 miles of an employee’s home. This is not specific to any one treatment or condition, and applies only to U.S. employees who are enrolled in employer-provided healthcare plans.”
But no COVID coverage — This travel reimbursement is an undeniably good move from Amazon, as access to abortion care is set to become increasingly scarce if the Supreme Court finalizes its decision. With its high profile and extremely large employee base, Amazon’s policy could spark similar moves from other corporations.
But not all of Amazon’s health policies are quite so helpful. The company officially ended its COVID-19 paid time off policy this week, giving employees the option to take up to five unpaid days off instead — just as infection numbers across the country continue to rise. The Amazon Labor Union is working to secure better benefits from all Amazon employees, but that process won’t be complete any time soon.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Amazon’s announcement followed a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling, however, Amazon’s announcement of the policy actually preceded news of of the draft. We regret the error.