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Employee Benefits

OPB | June 7, 2011 9:06 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10:11 p.m.

Mayor Sam Adams wants to expand health benefits for city employees to include sex reassignment surgery. San Francisco was the first city to offer this benefit ten years ago. Multnomah County began offering it to their employees last year. Portland City Council will vote on the mayor’s proposal Wednesday and, if approved, the new benefit would take effect July 1.

This decision raises some interesting questions about how employers decide what should be covered on the benefit plans they offer to their employees. For example, certain infertility treatments are not covered by either Multnomah County or the City of Portland. Obviously cost is a factor, but what else is considered?

Meanwhile, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling makes it easier for employees to challenge their employers in court if they feel the employer has lead them to believe they had different benefits than they actually had. It’s a complicated ruling and both employees and employers are calling it a victory. The case in question was about retirement benefits, but the ruling could also apply to health care and other benefits.

Are you an employer? Do you offer health benefits? How do you decide what should be covered? Are you an employee? What kinds of benefits are most important to you? Have you ever lobbied your employer to cover something specific?

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