While challenges with pregnancy and childbirth are often highly visible, fertility challenges tend to go unseen. For the roughly 13.1% of women who experience infertility in the U.S., their challenges are rarely covered comprehensively: about a third of U.S. employers offer fertility benefits today, but most are narrowly focused on reimbursement for treatment. Employers need to consider fertility benefits that support the physical, emotional, and financial health of their workforce, regardless of their path to parenthood.
Fertility treatments are stressful and expensive
For many people going through infertility challenges, it's an incredibly intimate, personal, and sometimes painful process that can be difficult to share with close family and friends, much less managers and coworkers. But it's an important issue to pay attention to, as the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) doubled between 2007 and 2017 and approximately 12.7% of women have sought out and received infertility services.
Additionally, 63% of LGBTQ people expect to use ART, adoption or foster care to become parents. Fertility interventions often total tens of thousands of dollars, so it's not difficult for them to see the appeal of an employer willing to assist them in their family planning financially.
By expanding your benefits packages to include more aspects of the family-building journey, you can help promote inclusivity and drive healthy equity and better outcomes for your employees. If you're looking to educate your team or achieve leadership buy-in, here are five reasons why you should offer expanded fertility benefits to your employees.
1) Keep Up With Shifting Employee Priorities
In the wake of the pandemic, corporate America has gone through a period of reevaluation, and long-standing priorities have taken on a new urgency. Talented employees have new standards for the support and benefits they receive from employers, fertility has shot to the top of that list. Not only are employees demanding them, employers are starting to see the opportunity to leverage fertility benefits to improve their diversity and inclusivity goals.
For the 31% of companies providing fertility benefits, the most common approach by a wide margin is reimbursement: helping cover the cost of fertility medications (76%) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments (77%). More than 80% of the best workplaces offer reimbursement for fertility care, and nearly half of these organizations have recently expanded their coverage to appeal to employees and job seekers. Almost 70% of millennials would change jobs to ensure they have fertility coverage.
So, it's not just about offering basic healthcare packages that employees can use to get by anymore. If you want to attract and retain top talent, you need to meet employees where their priorities are.
2) Promote Inclusivity at Your Organization
Fertility care contributes widely to inclusivity by giving everyone—regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status—the opportunity to start a family. As millennials and Gen Z employees and job seekers demand real action from employers to improve diversity and inclusion, HR benefits programs present a significant opportunity to close gaps. 54% of millennials say they would feel more loyal to their employer if they extended fertility benefits to LGBTQIA+ employees.
- 80% of millennials believe inclusion is essential when choosing an employer.
- 39% of millennials would leave their current organization for a more inclusive one.
More than 60% of LGBTQIA+ people planning families expect to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents. Unfortunately, most fertility benefits leave them fending for themselves. Suppose your fertility benefits require a medical diagnosis of infertility to qualify to use them, for example. In that case, your aspiring LGBTQIA+ parents are excluded entirely, along with single people choosing to parent alone.
3) Promote Financial Health and Reduce Stress
Employees may struggle with financial security while undergoing fertility treatments, considering the steep costs that may affect their long-term finances without a health plan’s coverage. Not only are these treatments expensive, but they also may not succeed the first (or even second) time, creating prolonged financial stress. A 2018 survey found that among 776 people who planned to go through some fertility treatment in the next 12 months:
- 40% reported feeling stressed about the cost of this treatment and the resulting long-term debt
- More than 50% planned to use a credit card to pay for the treatment
- 25% planned to use a personal loan to pay for the treatment
- 14% expected to borrow or withdraw money from their 401(k) plans
Offering fertility benefits promotes financial wellness for organizations, too, as employee loyalty will help retain talent and reduce turnover. 62% of U.S. employees who had their IVF covered by their employer remained in their job for a more extended period.
4) Boost Employee Productivity
Navigating fertility treatments without guidance can be a frustrating process that can eat up your employee's time and energy. These financial, emotional, and mental burdens can ultimately hinder their productivity at work. However, studies suggest that access to treatment means less worry about this major issue, improving employees’ ability to focus on work. In fact, 22% of employees who did have their IVF covered by their employer said they're more likely to work harder.
Employers offering fertility benefits often reap the benefits of more productive employees. Providing your employees with accessible, easy-to-use resources to handle their fertility challenges will likely help reduce stress around the process. And less stress means they'll have more mental space to succeed and be active contributors at work.
5) Support Employee Mental Health
Starting or growing a family is one of the most pivotal experiences in life, and facing infertility, and its treatment can be one of the most arduous. Infertility undoubtedly affects mental health, with studies showing that women report various adverse outcomes, including feelings of inadequacy, lowered self-esteem, and strained relationships. Research has also shown that women with infertility suffer from the same level of anxiety and depression as those with cancer or heart disease.
That's why fertility benefits must encompass mental health care, too. The consequences of untreated depression and anxiety, in addition to fertility treatment discontinuation, include increased healthcare spending and lower return to work rates. For your business, that can mean higher healthcare costs, lower productivity, and reduced employee retention.
Maven's Fertility Program Offers Holistic Care
As the world's largest virtual clinic for women’s and family health, Maven connects members seeking or undergoing fertility treatments with on-demand content, a welcoming community, and specialty care providers to help them successfully navigate fertility treatments.
Ready to find out how Maven can help your employees reach their fertility goals? Get started here.
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