With no end in sight to The Great Resignation, HR leaders have begun to explore how to build their business cases for adding stronger family health benefits, which many think can build happier, healthier workplaces.
“Parents are burning out and leaving the workforce,” said Dawn Godbolt, director of health equity at Maven Clinic, “and those who remain are looking for more [family] support than they're currently getting.” Godbolt’s comments came at a Maven webinar that focused on the release of new data that paints a murky picture of the state of family health benefits in the U.S. Maven surveyed over 300 HR professionals and 1,000 employees of reproductive age about their thoughts regarding family health benefits.
The family benefits gap
According to the research, for example, 60% of employees say they’ve left or considered leaving a job because their family benefits weren’t good enough. Unfortunately, the research also suggests considerable gaps exist between what employees say they need when it comes to family health benefits and what employers currently offer.
The research suggests a wider gap than employers might think, and the types of support employees need spans the length of the family journey. For example:
- 72% of large companies rate their benefits as all-inclusive, but only 29% offer fertility benefits
- 57% of all respondents were actively planning to expand their families, but only 24% of companies said they offer preconception or family planning benefits
- 53% of employees want help balancing work and parenting
- 43% want return-to-work coaching
- 36% want more support during pregnancy
The importance of family health benefits
The emphasis on adding more comprehensive family health benefits (including fertility, family planning, adoption, and surrogacy, among others) makes sense when considering the gaps above. The fact that employees now actively seek out these benefits only underscores a combination of factors—both socio-economic and cultural—that have made them essential. Those factors include:
Gaps in traditional healthcare coverage for women’s and family health benefits
Research shows 75% of women receive health insurance through an employer, but their coverage may expose them to significant financial burden in the event of pregnancy or a health emergency:
- One in six women spend more than $5,000 out-of-pocket to have a baby
- Insured families whose infants spend time in the NICU could pay more than $10,000
- 26% of women in the US have out-of-pocket costs from health insurance greater than $2,000 annually. In comparison, only 2% of women in Sweden and 6% of women in Canada report an annual cost this high
Discrimination for people of color that results in drastic disparities in outcomes
- Black women are three to four times more likely to die due to pregnancy-related complications than white women
- The maternal mortality rate for Black women is 55.3 deaths per 100,000 births—more than two times the rate for white women
The need to build more inclusive workplaces that support all paths to parenthood
- 80% of millennials believe inclusion is important when choosing an employer, and 54% say they would feel more loyal to their employer if they extended fertility benefits to LGBTQIA+ employees.
How to build a business case for family health benefits
The webinar offered some encouraging signs in employers’ efforts to add more family benefits. In a poll during the webinar, for example, 60% of attendees (mostly HR professionals) said they currently offer some form of family benefit. A large portion of respondents (83%) also said they offer telehealth benefits for family healthcare.
So on the positive side, HR leaders seem to have prioritized family health benefits as a means of combating burnout and attrition in the face of global crises such as COVID-19 and a global recession. Building a business case for expanding those benefits into more areas, however, has become the next challenge.
“This is a constant battle in the HR world,” said Maven’s Kathleen Davin, senior people operations manager, who moderated the webinar. “I've been in many situations where we have these incredible benefits on the table, but we really need to actually present a case.”
Survey your employees
Davin suggested several ways to build that business case, including getting “the pulse” of the organization. “The simplest way to do that,” she said, “is by conducting some sort of feedback survey, whether through a survey tool that you use that’s anonymous or just doing listening circles.” Davin suggested taking that feedback directly to the executive team to establish a need.
Make data-driven decisions
She also suggested using data to support the case. “Look at your health plan and actually get your brokers to let you know where you’re spending the bulk of your money on your claims,” she advised. “Are you spending it on maternal health and challenges that your employees are facing? Because they might not know how to navigate the plan. They might not have the resources available, or they might just need someone to help direct them on the right path to parenthood.
“These are ways to tie in that data to really make the case that this is important and that there are long-term outcomes that could actually be detrimental to your organization.”
Davin added: “Even if you're not paying for the treatments directly for employees, your organization might actually be on the hook for outcomes down the line, and you might actually see that impact on your health insurance plan.” These outcomes can include reduced productivity, higher healthcare costs for ongoing chronic conditions, and long-term attrition among experienced employees.
Improving family health benefits with Maven Clinic
From preconception to parenthood, employees need more help than what they’re getting through the healthcare system—and the traditional approach to family benefits alone. While there are point solutions on the market for specific needs across the different stages of starting and raising a family, companies risk creating a complicated benefits ecosystem that people may not engage with, and still might not fill in all the gaps.
Instead, leading companies are offering a comprehensive and integrated benefits ecosystem that spans the entire journey. With an integrated solution, employees receive the care and education they need in their paths to and through parenthood, so they can thrive at home and at work. Maven Clinic is the complete digital family health platform for leaders seeking to provide more inclusive, cost-effective care for their employees as they start, grow, and care for their families. Download your copy of our State of Family Health Benefits today.
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