Fertility benefits have become one of employers’ most popular benefits in their ongoing quest to attract top talent. Once considered a luxury benefit, more companies than ever now cover fertility support. And for good reason: employees across the country have made it clear they expect their employers to support them on their journeys to and through parenthood, no matter what path they take.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What fertility benefits should cover
- Trends in fertility benefits today
- FAQs about fertility, infertility, and family building
- The business case for fertility benefits
- Maven’s approach to fertility
What fertility benefits should cover
The majority of people seeking fertility treatments are worried about their costs—and not just financially, but physically and emotionally as well. The goal of a fertility benefit is to help people build their families as smoothly as possible. To do that, fertility benefits should support the spectrum of family-building needs, including (but not limited to):
- Fertility testing and consultations
- Hormone treatments
- IVF and IUI
- Egg and sperm freezing
- Surrogacy and adoption support
- Mental health support
- Financial support
Because of the exorbitant costs of procedures like IVF and surrogacy, fertility benefits have often taken the form of reimbursement programs for hormone tests and IVF cycles. There’s more to fertility benefits, however, than just covering select services. In fact, offering only specific service can actually push your employees to use treatments they don’t necessarily need, while ignoring other needs.
According to Dr. Wael Salem, a reproductive endocrinologist with 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 infertility 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.”
Trends in fertility benefits today
Employers and health plans alike are realizing that more needs to be done to support people building their families. They’re realizing they need to address some of the deeper issues with the healthcare system at large that are impacting the ways in which people access and pay for fertility care. Those challenges include the high cost of care, limited access to specialty providers, medical racism and discrimination. As the landscape for fertility changes, four major trends in fertility benefits have emerged:
- Offering whole-person support for people undergoing fertility treatments
- Recognizing the unique needs of LGBTQIA+ individuals
- Leaning into transparency around fees, payments, and utilization
- Incentivizing the right types of care for peoples’ unique needs
Reasons to offer fertility benefits in 2022
Infertility currently impacts 12% (or 1 in 8) of couples in the U.S., a number that’s expected to increase as individuals wait longer to start families. Assisted reproductive technology can help many of those couples have children but often at a high financial and emotional cost. Fertility benefits help employees navigate options and payments for a wide range of treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg freezing, and gestational surrogacy, giving employers a way to offer much-needed help.
Offering fertility benefits isn’t just doing right by your people, however, it makes business sense, too. Here’s why your HR team needs to add fertility coverage to your employee benefits package.
1. Fertility benefits build employee loyalty
Today’s employees expect more from their benefits. Traditional offerings like health, vision, and dental insurance are table stakes, as are essential family benefits like parental leave. Come open enrollment season, companies should look to meet those higher expectations with fertility benefits. 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 parenthood until their late twenties and early thirties.
“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 coverage ultimately make themselves into a more attractive and competitive workplace,” Atiyeh said.
You also can’t build an enduring company or a positive culture without retaining employees. To that end, offering competitive benefits can 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, a company that provides medical financing services. “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. On the flip side, over half of female employees whose companies don’t offer fertility benefits say that they would consider changing jobs to get them.
“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.”
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 treatment: more than 60% of LGBTQIA+ people planning families 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 coverage 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
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, an estimated two-thirds of the workforce now struggle with mental health challenges. Stressors are linked to both professional and personal matters. Concerning the latter, few challenges create more stress than infertility. Studies show that those navigating infertility suffer from adverse mental health outcomes, including feelings of inadequacy, lower 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. Even when employees have access to treatment, concerns around financing and the time commitment necessary can quickly wear them down. “It’s mentally and physically taxing, and I’m not just talking about finances. Bottom line: these treatments are time-consuming and exhausting,” said United Medical Credit’s Spivack. He noted that IVF requires an hours-long commitment from individuals every week. Initial consultation, patient education, injections, and follow-up appointments take hours of your employees’ time and headspace—and that’s only the initial stimulation phase of IVF. Later steps, such as egg retrieval and embryo transfer, each come with recovery and follow-up schedules. Supporting employees by providing them with financial assistance and counseling can help comfort them.
4. Limiting fertility expenses can improve employees’ financial health
While the link between wellness and personal finance might not be obvious, it’s a critical and overlooked part of overall health. Over 80% of businesses say that concerns about finances have affected employee engagement and productivity. 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 $23,000 per cycle, with most couples requiring two or more cycles before achieving a successful pregnancy. Those costs don’t include delivery and postpartum care, which can cost between $12,000 and $30,000. One 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 and the resulting 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
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 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.
Frequently asked questions about fertility
How common are fertility benefits?
Fertility coverage isn’t a niche or a luxury benefit. An employer survey by Mercer found that 55% of respondents offered some infertility coverage in 2021.
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.
Mercer data also shows that employer-sponsored coverage for IVF, intrauterine insemination (IUI), and other 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 it as their top reason for doing so.
Are fertility benefits expensive?
The same 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.
Maven’s Fertility Benefits
Maven is the world’s largest virtual clinic for women’s and family health. Our comprehensive fertility and maternity program includes ongoing assessments, proactive check-ins, and human touchpoints, helping members identify risks early and prevent costly complications.
Maven’s care model is also proven to reduce healthcare spending. In addition to a 2:1 clinical ROI, our offerings reduce the need for costly services like C-Sections and NICU admissions, saving patients and employers thousands in healthcare costs upfront and long term. 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. Taking care of your people was always the right thing to do—and now doing so saves your business thousands in healthcare expenses, too. Schedule a call with our team to see how Maven supports working families, retains talent, and reduces costs.
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