Walmart on Friday told employees that it will expand abortion and related travel coverage, according to an internal memo. The change comes about two months after the Supreme Court struck down the federal right to access the procedure.
Effective immediately, Walmart’s health-care plans will cover abortion “when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability,” according to the memo to employees, which was reviewed by CNBC.
Employees and their family members who are insured through Walmart will also have travel costs covered, if they cannot access a legal abortion within 100 miles of their location, according to the email, which was sent by Walmart’s chief people officer, Donna Morris.
Walmart is the nation’s largest private employer with about 1.6 million employees and is headquartered in Arkansas, where strict abortion limits have already gone into effect. The company’s health-care expansion comes months after Target, Apple and others broadened or reaffirmed abortion coverage. Still, Walmart’s policy decision is symbolic: The retailer’s more than 4,700 stores are located in small towns and larger cities alike, with about 90% of Americans living within 10 miles of a location.
Last month, the company’s CEO, Doug McMillon, sent an employee-wide email saying that Walmart was “working thoughtfully and diligently to figure out the best path forward” after the Supreme Court decision. Walmart at the time didn’t say what changes the company was considering.
The retailer previously offered more limited abortion coverage. According to the company’s employee handbook, charges for “procedures, services, drugs and supplies related to abortions or termination of pregnancy are not covered, except when the health of the mother would be in danger if the fetus were carried to term, the fetus could not survive the birthing process, or death would be imminent after birth.”
Morris included the abortion updates in a memo previewing Walmart’s open enrollment period, a time when employees sign up for benefits. She said the company prepared for the season and made changes after “listening to our associates about what’s important to them.”
“We strive to provide quality, competitive and accessible health coverage that supports you and your families,” she said in the memo.
The company is also launching a center for fertility services and increasing financial support for adoptions from $5,000 to $20,000, according to the memo.
Walmart’s home state of Arkansas is one of several with a so-called trigger law designed to limit abortion access immediately upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The state bans all abortions except those permitted to save the life of a mother.
The company did not immediately comment on the coverage expansion Friday.