Fertility benefits have become one of employers’ most popular tactics in the ongoing quest to attract top talent. Once considered a luxury, companies are increasingly ranking it as a top benefits priority. And for good reason: More than 48 million couples across the globe have received an infertility diagnosis, and 67% of LGBTQIA+ employees intend to grow their families through fertility, adoption, or surrogacy.

Employees have made it clear they expect their employers to support them on their journeys to and through parenthood, with one-third of employees saying they want additional support for family-building.

What are fertility benefits, and what should they cover?

The goal of a fertility benefit is to provide people who are family planning with as much support as possible. The majority of people seeking fertility treatments are worried about their costs—not just financially, but clinically and emotionally as well.

Fertility benefits should support the spectrum of family-building needs, including (but not limited to):

  • Fertility testing and consultations
  • Hormone treatments
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI), including coverage of necessary fertility medications
  • Fertility preservation procedures like egg and sperm freezing
  • Surrogacy and adoption support
  • Mental health support
  • Financial support

Going beyond treatment and reimbursement

Because of the exorbitant costs of procedures like IVF,  fertility benefits sometimes take the form of reimbursement programs for hormone tests and IVF cycles. However, there’s more to fertility benefits than just paying for certain treatments. Offering only specific services can push your employees to seek interventions they don’t necessarily need.

According to Dr. Wael Salem, a reproductive endocrinologist at CCRM San Francisco, “A fertility benefit that is designed to provide financial coverage for treatment alone does not make sense. It excludes the vast majority of cases where people need support and guidance and are vulnerable to misinformation. It’s not enabling everything that healthcare can actually do to help people grow their families.”

Read more: What should fertility benefits look like? Reproductive endocrinologists weigh in

Trends in fertility benefits for employees

Employers understand that the traditional healthcare system doesn’t adequately support people seeking fertility services or fertility preservation. Employees face challenges including high cost of care, inadequate insurance coverage, limited access to specialty providers, and medical racism and discrimination.

As the landscape for fertility changes, three major trends in fertility benefits for employees have emerged:

Offering personalized support for people undergoing fertility treatments or fertility preservation

Trying to conceive can affect all aspects of an employees’ life, especially their mental health. Fertility treatments like IVF can be a long, arduous journey, negatively impacting stress levels, self-esteem, and mental health.

Employers are recognizing the need to provide comprehensive care for all aspects of the family planning and family-building journey, not just the fertility treatments themselves. Coverage can include fertility specialists, mental health professionals, acupuncturists, nutritionists, and more at little to no cost to the employee.

Recognizing the unique needs of LGBTQIA+ individuals seeking fertility services

Historically, health plans and employers offered fertility care to members who met the medical criteria of infertility. This coverage incidentally excluded many, especially same-sex and transgendered couples and single parents by choice. While there has been a major shift towards removing barriers to access in fertility care, LGBTQIA+ members are still facing hurdles when building families.

Beyond “social infertility,” which stems in part from the structural discrimination above, some in the LGBTQIA+ community also suffer from physical infertility and need to seek infertility services. Research also often don’t take into account transgender people who face an increased risk of infertilty due to gender-affirming hormone supplements.

Companies should continue to expand their understanding of the family-building needs of all communities, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or marital status, and offer the medical and financial support each member requires to successfully start, grow, and raise their families.

Leaning into transparency around fees, payments, and utilization of assisted reproductive technology

It’s well known that fertility treatments can be expensive. However, employees often struggle to ascertain what treatments are actually covered by their health plans and what they’ll have to pay for out of pocket. They may also learn that some tests or fertility drugs are covered, while others are not.

Many employers are now working with their health plans and third-party platforms to encourage transparency around the coverage and costs of fertility treatment. Bundling costs, using care advocates to simplify the patient navigation experience, and enabling easy reimbursements can all help to drive additional transparency for members on their family-building journey.

Read more: 4 trends in fertility benefits

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Why should companies offer fertility benefits in 2023?

Fertility benefits help employees navigate options and payments for a wide range of family planning and fertility services, including in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, egg freezing, and gestational surrogacy. Offering fertility benefits isn’t just doing right by your people—it makes business sense, too. Here’s why your HR team needs to add fertility support to your employee benefits package.

1. Fertility benefits build employee loyalty

Today’s employees expect more from their benefits. Traditional insurance coverage like health, vision, and dental insurance are table stakes, as are essential family benefits like parental leave. A Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ) survey found that nearly 70% of millennials would change jobs to ensure they have fertility coverage. Among employees struggling with infertility, that number jumped to 90%.

And the demand for fertility benefits isn’t going anywhere, as more couples are putting off family planning and parenthood into their thirties and forties.

“Employees have more power than ever when it comes to searching for a place to work that meets their needs,” said Linn Atiyeh, founder of Bemana, a recruiting firm. Employer ratings bear that out: Over 80% of top-ranked workplaces offer reimbursement for fertility care, and half of these organizations have recently expanded their coverage to appeal to employees and job seekers.

“Businesses that offer fertility benefits ultimately make themselves into a more attractive and competitive workplace,” Atiyeh said.

Offering competitive benefits can also keep top talent from looking elsewhere. For couples navigating infertility, impactful family benefits can make an outsized impact on their perception of your business. That’s why 62% of U.S. employees who had IVF covered by their employer remained in their job for an extended period.

“It builds loyalty,” said Scott Spivack, director at United Medical Credit. “Employees who received fertility benefits are more inclined to remain in their job. They are willing to work harder, too.”

That’s not just a hunch: individuals with access to fertility benefits do report having a sense of loyalty toward their companies. For example, employees are 1.5 times more likely to recommend working for their employer if they offer fertility benefits.

2. Fertility benefits are key to an inclusive workplace

Every family has a unique path to parenthood. As working women wait longer to have children, some have opted to freeze their eggs while developing their careers or finding the right partner. But working women aren’t alone in embracing fertility services: more than two-thirds of LGBTQIA+ people family planning expect to use assisted reproductive technology and other alternative means of becoming parents.

Archie Payne, president of CalTek Staffing, a technical recruiting firm, finds that talent is increasingly demanding more inclusive benefits.

“A recent candidate said they would only apply to positions that offered inclusive family perks and wouldn’t take a second look at those that didn't,” Payne said. “A company that offers fertility benefits shows its commitment to diversity, equity, and belonging. Providing the necessary coverage for family planning and fertility is a positive way to create a more inclusive workplace where all employees feel truly valued.”

3. Fertility benefits support employee mental health

Studies show that those navigating an infertility diagnosis suffer from adverse mental health outcomes, including feelings of inadequacy, lower self-esteem, and strained relationships. Research has also shown that people with infertility suffer from the same level of anxiety and depression as those with cancer or heart disease.

Mental health care available through fertility benefits provides critical wrap-around support for employees as they navigate their fertility and family planning journeys. Access to mental health specialists can help your employees navigate the rollercoaster of emotions that often accompany fertility treatments.

Some may also benefit from access to support groups or classes where they can connect with peers going through similar fertility treatments, helping them to feel less alone during and after the process.

4. Limiting fertility expenses can improve employees’ financial health

Given the high cost of fertility care, there’s an acute risk of financial stress among employees pursuing alternative paths to parenthood. For example, IVF can cost upwards of $25,000 per cycle, including fertility medications, with most couples requiring two or more cycles before achieving a successful pregnancy.

Studies also show that of people who plan to pursue fertility treatment, 40% reported feeling stressed about the cost and the resulting debt and more than 50% planned to use a credit card to pay for the treatment.

WIth 80% of employers saying that financial stress can lower their employees’ performance at work, providing financial support for infertility services and fertility care can make a measurable difference. Employers can choose to reimburse employees for a certain number of treatment cycles, or offer a lifetime maximum amount to each employee that they can use for eligible fertility expenses.

5. Supporting fertility can improve 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 clinical burdens can ultimately hinder their productivity at work.

However, studies suggest that increasing access to treatment can improve 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 family planning and 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.

Get the guide: Your guide to fertility benefits: what to cover and how to build them

Frequently asked questions

How common are fertility benefits? 

Fertility coverage isn’t a niche or a luxury benefit. A recent report by Maven found that over a third of employers offer fertility benefits. 

Benefits and recruiting experts echoed that sentiment. “In our work with clients, we’re seeing that fertility benefits are an increasingly common part of the benefits package, particularly at larger companies,” said Matt Erhard, managing partner at Summit Search Group. He cited the benefit’s affordability, concerns about retention, and a growing awareness of what fertility treatments entail as reasons employers should offer fertility benefits. 

Data also shows that employer-sponsored coverage for fertility procedures and services have increased in popularity year over year. Notably, DE&I has been a key driver in this growth: 61% of businesses that recently added fertility coverage cited equity and inclusion as their top reason for doing so. 

Are fertility benefits expensive? 

A Mercer survey found that 97% of employers that offer fertility coverage (including IVF coverage) reported no significant cost increase. “While fertility treatments like IVF may appear expensive on the individual level, as an employer-offered benefit, they’re affordable compared to other aspects of the employee benefits package,” Erhard said.

That’s because no path to parenthood is the same, and individuals struggling with infertility can often achieve success through IUI and other more affordable options. In addition, with preimplantation genetic testing often included in the fertility treatment process, couples using fertility treatments today are more likely to have positive outcomes on the first try. 

Whatever approach couples choose, managing the costs doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Maven Wallet makes it simple for employees to calculate the cost of fertility, surrogacy, adoption, and other services upfront, giving them clarity into how much their benefits will cover. It also connects to individuals’ bank accounts, providing them with quick access to their employers’ fertility reimbursement funds when they need it. Learn more about Maven Wallet here.

Should time off be included as a fertility benefit?

Yes, and offering fertility benefits may not be a matter of choice. Fertility treatment is a lengthy process that, more often than not, requires employees to take time off from work. Most legal experts believe that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act protects workers from being penalized for taking time off for fertility treatment.

Enhancing fertility benefits with Maven Clinic

As the leading women’s and family health company, Maven offers a comprehensive fertility program that includes on-demand access to fertility experts, clinically-vetted educational content, and financial management for fertility treatment. Our goal is to help couples conceive in the way that’s best for them. That’s why 17% of members who join our fertility track don’t end up needing or receiving treatment.

And Maven helps employees bring their all to the office, too—83% of our Family Building members reported being more productive at work during fertility treatments from having Maven’s support.

Contact us today to learn more about how Maven supports working families, retains talent, and reduces costs.

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