Commentary: Why this Seattle startup had to mess with Texas over healthcare

Glowforge CEO Dan Shapiro. (Glowforge Photograph)

Editor’s notice: This visitor submit was written by Glowforge CEO Dan Shapiro. Different firms reminiscent of Yelp, Salesforce, and Citigroup are additionally protecting comparable bills in response to new abortion legal guidelines.

Once I began Glowforge, I knew I’d be taught quite a bit about lasers, however I by no means anticipated that I’d be researching state legal guidelines on abortion and trans healthcare.

Right here we’re, although.

Glowforge, like several respectable firm, guarantees its staff healthcare with their jobs. Now, some states have outlawed offering that healthcare on their soil. So we’re going to do the one first rate factor we are able to do: flying our folks to security to allow them to get the care they had been promised. 

As of at this time, when you work at Glowforge and stay in a state the place abortion or gender-affirming care is banned, we pays to your journey bills that will help you get that care in one other state. Similar goes for your loved ones members.

And when you or your member of the family have an ongoing want for gender-affirming care (reminiscent of hormone remedy), however can’t legally obtain it in your state, we pays so that you can relocate to one other state the place that healthcare is authorized and obtainable.

America is odd. As an artifact of World Struggle Two, healthcare is generally supplied by employers. Which means firms like Glowforge spend enormous quantities of money and time planning for healthcare. It additionally implies that as CEO, I’m charged not simply with making 3D laser printers, but in addition with making healthcare selections that influence our 200 staff.

“We can’t let state borders, posturing politicians, or the price of an airplane ticket get in the best way of that promise.”

(In the event you’re eager about beginning an organization your self, get able to find out about reimbursement charges. Younger Me could be dissatisfied to find that Previous Me is aware of extra about out-of-network coinsurance than faster-than-light spaceships.)

We did the work, and our insurance coverage is superb. You don’t should take my phrase for it — in 2015, we determined to publish insurance coverage particulars our web site. This protects job candidates the horror of getting to ask a recruiter if their medical circumstances are coated which, imagine it or not, is what most firms do. However we’re pleased with the insurance coverage we offer, and we imagine candidates ought to find out about insurance coverage earlier than they interview.

Since we publish our insurance coverage, staff select our firm particularly due to the advantages we offer. 

However as I write this at this time, states are making it unlawful for us to supply the very providers we promised. Dozens of states are shifting to limit or ban abortion. And lots of of those self same states are actually making an attempt to criminalize gender-affirming healthcare for trans folks

Since 2020, we’ve grow to be a remote-first firm. We’ve employed folks in Texas and Oklahoma and Florida. We’ve promised all of them equitable and truthful healthcare, and now it falls to us to supply it. We can’t let state borders, posturing politicians, or the price of an airplane ticket get in the best way of that promise.

And as a facet notice — isn’t it unusual that the governors who’re loudest about making their states “business-friendly” are those making it more durable for us to run our companies?  Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stated, in impact, “we’ve determined to overrule the advantages plan to procure to your staff, and by the best way, you’re going to wish a brand new HR program tomorrow.”

This wasn’t a small undertaking for us — our authorized and HR group labored for 2 days across the clock to determine what to do about it. How can we make sure that our staff are protected? How can we fulfill our authorized and ethical obligations to each particular person on our group? How on earth do you categorize the expense of reimbursement for out-of-state healthcare journey with out making the IRS offended?

And now we’ve acquired our plan. We checked it with the attorneys. We’re able to care for our folks.

Wish to take a shortcut? You bought it. You’ll be able to copy our homework. E-mail me at and I’ll share with you our coverage, so you may undertake it at your organization, too. We could also be among the many first to do that, however I hope that quickly we’ll be in a number of good firm — like yours.

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