Employers are adding fertility benefits to attract and retain talent in the “reproductive age workforce”—namely millennials and Gen-Zers. Last year alone, the number of employers providing fertility and family-building benefits grew by 8%, and nearly 800 companies worldwide now offer some type of family-building benefits. 

Although more employers are offering family-building and fertility benefits, many plans tend to only cover costly treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and egg freezing. While those services are undoubtedly important, it's essential to expand fertility coverage to be inclusive of all employees and support all pathways to parenthood. Fertility benefits are essential to your DE&I strategy and can also be beneficial for business—here’s why.

Fertility needs are as diverse as your employees

Your employees will need different types of support when building their families based on their unique and varied backgrounds and identities.

  • Gender: Infertility currently impacts 12% (or 1 in 8) of couples in the US, which is expected to increase as individuals wait longer to start families. 20% of infertility is caused by male factor infertility, and 30 to 40% are caused by both partners.
  • Race: Infertility is more likely to affect Black and Latine people, and they are less likely or take longer to seek fertility treatments. They're also more prone to worse outcomes than their white counterparts. 
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity: LGBTQIA+ people may look to become parents through donor conception, adoption, or surrogacy. 
  • Marital status: Single people are also affected—many individuals want to take control of their reproductive future without a partner through fertility preservation treatments. 

No matter what path they take, the journey to conception can be long and arduous, with significant physical, emotional, and financial strain. It can also be an all-consuming process for many individuals, which leads to reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and overall dissatisfaction at work. That's why offering top-tier support and comprehensive, inclusive fertility benefits is vital to attract and retain the best talent and solidify your commitment to DE&I.

How and why many fertility benefits are leaving employees behind 

The burden of infertility affects individuals across genders and demographic groups. Although fertility treatments are becoming both more common and more successful, historically marginalized communities still face disparities in care and outcomes.

LGBTQIA+ employees may face more barriers to fertility care and experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of this, they may have to foot the bill themselves and pay out-of-pocket for extremely costly fertility treatments. Some even opt to forgo trying to conceive because of the costs—63% of same-sex couples said that while they want to start families, they can't because traditional insurance wouldn't cover them. 

63% of same-sex couples said that while they want to start families, they can't because traditional insurance wouldn't cover them.”

BIPOC individuals also experience discrimination and face steep obstacles to receiving fertility care. Black women are more likely to report infertility compared with white women, and black and Hispanic women are less likely than white women to access fertility care. These demographic groups are also less likely to have successful IVF cycles. Conversely, white women are the most likely group to receive treatment in general, suggesting race plays a significant role in the likelihood of treatment. 

Fertility needs impact all sexual and gender identities: all family-building benefits policies should be developed to meet the needs of a diverse workforce. Companies should extend financial assistance to these employees to assist them in forming families through varied fertility treatments. Still, the support shouldn't stop there—benefits should include assistance for any legal costs, medical costs, and time off for treatments, procedures, and recovery.

Fertility treatments for diverse groups

Helping employees cover all kinds of family-building journeys means providing options to your whole workforce, rather than only those experiencing medical infertility. An inclusive fertility benefit includes: 

Surrogacy/gestational carrier services 

Gestational surrogacy, also known as partial surrogacy or host surrogacy, is generally more common than traditional surrogacy.  Surrogacy is usually prohibitively expensive and totals more than $100,000, involving legal and agency fees, IVF, and doctor's appointments. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate isn't biologically related to the baby they are carrying. Same-sex couples often use GC services to carry a pregnancy, and others may choose them because of infertility or other medical issues that prevent them from conceiving on their own. 

IVF sans an infertility diagnosis

The healthcare system is generally skewed toward serving heterosexual individuals, so LGBTQIA+ individuals face many structural barriers to family building. Many are denied coverage for IVF treatments because health plans often require a medical diagnosis of infertility, which is defined in heterosexual terms, to prove that the individual or couple cannot conceive children through sexual intercourse. 

There are also racial disparities present in infertility diagnoses—studies suggest that BIPOC patients are often referred to fertility specialists later than white patients, suggesting their diagnoses are delayed. Delays in diagnosis and treatment occur for a variety of reasons, but one survey of Black women found their experiences with doctors had been influenced by race, gender, and/or class discrimination, and some reported that their medical professionals made assumptions about their ability to pay for services.

Offering employees an option to access IVF without requiring an infertility diagnosis is critical. Since IVF is cost-prohibitive to most without coverage at around $21,600 per cycle, this benefit can be life-changing. 

Adoption

Some employees may consider adoption to expand their families—approximately 2% of all American families have adopted and 21% of same-sex couples have adopted a child. Adopting can cost anywhere between $5,000 for foster care adoption to $50,000 for international adoption. Agency, legal, court, and travel fees can quickly add up. Sometimes, the adoption process can take over a year, so offering adoption assistance can make your employees' goals more feasible. Assistance can include:

  • Sponsoring adoption for an employee through an upfront stipend or reimbursement
  • Recommending reputable agencies
  • Offering flexible working arrangements and time off 

Fertility preservation

Fertility preservation is a helpful resource for those who aren't ready to become parents yet—and a life-changing one for trans people. Even if an individual has medically or surgically transitioned, they may still be able to have children that are genetically related to them. An inclusive fertility preservation benefit should cover gamete preservation (eggs, oocytes, and sperm) and access to testing services so employees can feel empowered to take control of their fertility without compromising their identity. 

Mental health support

Infertility is one of the most stressful experiences someone can go through, and research illustrates that LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC employees are disproportionately affected by mental health issues. While receiving financial and logistical support from an employer can make or break someone's ability to take the first steps to form their family, mental health support is needed along their journey. Including mental health support in your fertility benefit can help them better navigate their family-building journeys—from dealing with strenuous legal processes to managing the anxiety and stress of treatments.

Employers can support all employees on their fertility journey with Maven

As a part of any DE&I strategy, employers must provide access to comprehensive, inclusive fertility benefits that offer accessible, culturally-humble care, and Maven supports companies looking for inclusive fertility benefits. Our comprehensive fertility and maternity program includes proactive check-ins, ongoing assessments, community support, and human touchpoints, helping members identify risks early, increase positive outcomes, and prevent expensive complications. Plans are inclusive of all people and paths to parenthood and include: 

  • Reimbursement for fertility expenses, with or without an infertility diagnosis
  • Culturally-humble care
  • Access to fertility clinics specializing in LGBTQIA+ fertility
  • 24/7 virtual access to care and specialists to support during the fertility journey

There are business benefits to implementing inclusive benefits with Maven. 96% of Family Building members are more loyal to employers because they implemented Maven, and 83% of Family Building members reported being more productive at work during fertility treatment from having support. Ready to start offering better health outcomes and life-changing benefits to your employees? Contact us today.

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