Over the last decade, the prevalence of infertility treatment coverage in the U.S. has increased. According to a Mercer survey conducted throughout the 2000s and 2010s, it was routinely found that less than a quarter of large employers covered in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, Maven’s 2024 report found that 37% of global employers are now offering fertility support for women and men, including IVF care, showing the rising importance of this benefit.  

There's a reason why so many employers are making the shift and covering employees' IVF treatments—it makes good business sense. 97% of employers say that they have not encountered any significant increases in medical plan costs by offering this coverage, yet this provision results in more loyal and committed employees, higher workforce morale, and an improved ability to attract top talent.

HR leaders play a crucial role in facilitating employee fertility benefits by researching and selecting providers, developing policies, communicating information to employees, managing administrative aspects, legal compliance, and evaluating the effectiveness of current programs.

In this article, we explore why fertility treatment support is a great investment, how employers can pay for IVF for their employees with carefully chosen benefits, and offer practical advice on how to implement them.

Understanding the need for IVF and fertility benefits

Since its introduction in 1978, the utilization of in vitro fertilization has increased globally. While initially developed to give couples experiencing fertility challenges the chance to become parents, IVF is now also used by people with medical and genetic conditions that impact natural conception, LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples, and to preserve future fertility.

IVF accounts for 5% of births in some European countries, 4.1% in Australia and New Zealand, and 1.9% in the U.S. Despite IVF treatment becoming more common, a variety of barriers, including affordability and accessibility, still prevent all of those who need it from being able to undergo treatment. About 40%—25 million people in total—in the U.S. have limited or no access to fertility clinics.

Offering fertility benefits to employees not only helps reduce this inequity but also drives inclusivity and diversity within the workforce.

The growing demand for fertility treatments

Globally, infertility affects one in six people in their lifetime. Projections indicate that by 2025, this will equate to just under 6.5 million women in the U.S. alone. Although infertility is a physical condition, it has a significant impact on the overall well-being and mental health of those affected. As many as 52% of women dealing with fertility challenges experience depression, and men with a male factor infertility diagnosis have more symptoms of depression, anxiety and general psychological distress, worse quality of some aspects of life, and lower self-esteem than those without.

Research indicates that the impact of infertility seeps into individuals' working lives as well. Nearly nine out of 10 employees feel their fertility challenges significantly impacted their productivity at work and 50% say it decreases their job satisfaction. Further, more than one-third of employees undergoing fertility treatment consider leaving their jobs and almost one in five end up leaving their jobs because of the impact of fertility treatment.

The cost barrier of IVF

Fertility treatments such as IVF can help those with infertility realize their dreams of becoming parents. However, the ability to pay for IVF is one of the biggest barriers to accessing treatment. In the United States, the cost of one full IVF cycle can be between $15,000 and $30,000, although this can vary drastically depending on the fertility clinic. In addition, many people require more than one IVF cycle to achieve pregnancy.

The high cost means that IVF is inaccessible for many. For others, the journey to parenthood results in them looking for other ways to fund their medical treatment and care including:

  • Personal loans
  • Fertility finance with fixed monthly payments
  • Family building grants
  • IVF grants
  • A home equity loan
  • Asking family and friends to borrow money
  • Crowdfunding to raise money
  • Traveling overseas for treatment

Surveys show that 71% of people are willing to take on debt to finance their fertility treatment, while another third have used credit to cover their fertility care.  Figures such as these indicate the pivotal role that employers can play in supporting their employees to navigate the clinical, emotional, and financial impact of fertility challenges and overcoming barriers to treatment by providing comprehensive fertility benefits.

The role of employers in supporting family building

There is a clear business case for employers to support their employees as they start or grow their families. We have already discussed the cost implications in comparison to the business advantages such as employee retention, attraction of top talent, and improved morale. But there is the human benefit of offering fertility support too.

More than three-quarters of those experiencing fertility challenges feel withdrawn from society. When undergoing treatments like IVF, 60% of people hide the real reason for time taken off for appointments, and 32% of women believe that disclosing they are having treatment would put their jobs at risk.

Adopting supportive workplace policies can create a wealth of positive outcomes and help tackle issues such as these. For example, they can help fertility issues to become more normalized and reduce the stigma surrounding them. They can also help foster an open and empathetic workplace culture. Moreover, they can make a tangible difference to the lives of individual employees. With Maven, for instance, 96% of Fertility & Family Building members are more loyal to their employer because they implemented Maven, and 30% of members avoid IUI/IVF treatment altogether. 

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Strategies for HR leaders to fund IVF benefits

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how to pay for IVF for your employees. There is a range of options you should look at to assess their suitability for your organization and your staff.

Direct coverage options

Traditional insurance plans that offer IVF coverage typically operate within the framework of health insurance policies and provide varying degrees of coverage for IVF treatment, depending on the specific policy and insurance provider. Coverage details typically include:

  • Eligibility criteria: Some plans may require individuals to meet certain medical criteria or undergo specific diagnostic tests before IVF coverage is authorized.
  • Number of cycles: Insurance plans may limit the number of IVF cycles covered per individual or per lifetime.
  • Cost-sharing: The insurance plan may cover a percentage of the IVF treatment costs, with the employee responsible for paying the remaining portion as coinsurance, copayments, or deductibles.

Insurance plans offering IVF coverage may also have preferred networks of fertility clinics, specialists, and healthcare providers. Employees may be required to seek treatment from within these networks to receive maximum coverage benefits. Out-of-network services may be subject to higher out-of-pocket costs or may not be covered at all.

There are also drawbacks to health insurance-based IVF coverage for you as an employer. Direct coverage can be costly, especially if a significant portion of the workforce utilizes the benefit. In addition, it may lead to increased premiums if the cost of coverage is not carefully managed.

Innovative financing solutions

As the landscape of assisted reproductive technology has changed, so have the financing options available to individuals and businesses. Financial assistance and fertility grants are now offered by non-profit organizations. Unlimited IVF cycle packages and IVF treatment refund programs are more common. Further, financing solutions for employers wanting to provide financial help toward IVF to their employees are gaining popularity.

Shared risk programs

Shared risk programs involve partnering with fertility clinics or specialized providers to offer IVF treatments with shared financial risks. In these programs, you and the employee share the financial responsibility for IVF treatments, with the company covering a portion of the costs upfront and the remaining costs reimbursed if successful outcomes are achieved. Advantages as an employer include reduced financial risk and predictable budgeting, while employees benefit from access to IVF treatments with lower upfront costs and the assurance of financial support with unsuccessful outcomes.

Fertility financing

Fertility financing programs enable employees to access IVF treatments through IVF loans or installment plans, often with preferential interest rates or flexible repayment terms. Employers may partner with financial institutions or third-party providers to offer these financing options as part of their benefits package.

This approach allows employees to spread the cost of IVF treatments over time, making them more affordable and accessible, while as an employer, you benefit from not bearing the full financial burden upfront.

Partnering with specialized providers

Partnering with specialized fertility benefits companies or providers allows you to leverage their expertise in designing and administering fertility benefits programs that meet the unique needs of your workforce. Partners such as Maven offer comprehensive services, including program design, employee education, administrative support, and access to preferred networks of fertility clinics and specialists.

For example, Maven offers Maven Managed Benefit as part of our Fertility & Family Building program to make it easier for employers and employees alike to navigate fertility care. The benefit offers support before, during and after treatment:

  • Before: Rather than going directly to a clinic for treatment, employees start by receiving education about their fertility, and can explore paths to pregnancy through TTC coaching and preconception care plans, including nutritional support and lifestyle changes. 
  • During: If it’s deemed appropriate for employees to seek fertility care, employees will be connected with high-quality clinics in Maven’s Performance Network. Clinics in this network who partner with Maven offer discounted rates to employers, with no additional markup, meaning that fertility care rates are lower for employees and employers alike. Employees can also access virtual visits with specialists, including reproductive endocrinologists and mental health therapists, in between their in-person visits.
  • After: Once employees are pregnant, they can transition to Maven’s Maternity program, which supports members through pregnancy and postpartum, ensuring seamless, comprehensive care. 

By partnering with specialized vendors like Maven for the management of fertility benefits, your HR team can focus on strategic planning and employee engagement, while knowing that employees are receiving high-quality support and care throughout their fertility journey.

Implementing IVF benefits: A step-by-step guide for HR

As a HR leader, you can implement IVF benefits that meet the needs and expectations of your employees while supporting them in their family-building endeavors. However, it takes careful, well-considered planning and continuous improvement to ensure that your fertility treatment benefits result in improved outcomes for your staff and your business.

Assessing employee needs and expectations

You cannot provide the right financial resources and practical support for employees if you do not understand their circumstances and points of view. Assessing employee needs and expectations is a key first step of the process.

Gather feedback from employees through surveys and focus groups to understand their family-building needs, preferences, and what they want from fertility benefits. Include questions about their awareness of fertility benefits, interest in IVF coverage, challenges faced in accessing fertility treatments, and desired support services.

From the responses, analyze demographic data, such as age, marital status, and tenure, to identify trends and patterns related to fertility needs within the workforce. You can then use these insights to tailor your IVF treatment coverage to meet the specific needs of different employee groups.

Evaluating benefit options and providers

Once you have a sound understanding of what your employees want and need, you next need to find a program or provider that meets these needs. You can do this by assessing the scope of fertility benefits offered by each insurance company or vendor, including coverage for IVF treatments, additional fertility treatments such as IUI and sperm and egg freezing, diagnostic testing, fertility medications, and support services. Be sure to seek providers that offer other family-forming benefits such as adoption and surrogacy support too.

Consider factors such as eligibility requirements, cost-sharing arrangements, coverage limits, network requirements, and preauthorization processes. In addition, evaluate additional features such as whether an employee will be able to access their preferred fertility clinic, ease of use for both you as an employer and your employees as eligible patients, and whether there is scope to extend the support to an employee's future family.

Top tips for vetting and selecting providers

  • Research reputable insurance coverage carriers and specialized fertility benefits providers in the market.
  • Request proposals from multiple providers, comparing their offerings in terms of coverage, cost, network access, and support services.
  • Seek recommendations from other employers or industry peers who have experience with fertility benefits programs.
  • Evaluate provider credentials, including experience in managing fertility benefits, quality of customer service, and track record of successful outcomes.

Communicating with employees

When finalizing your organization's fertility benefits package, you also need to prepare a comprehensive communication plan to announce the introduction of IVF benefits to employees. Use multiple communication channels, such as email, intranet announcements, in-person meetings, and informational sessions, to reach employees at different levels and locations.

Highlight the key features and benefits of your IVF coverage, including eligibility criteria, coverage details, how to access the benefits, and additional resources available to employees. Your benefits vendor should also work with you to help employees transition onto the new benefit, especially those in the middle of fertility treatments. 

Even after announcing the new fertility benefits, it's important to provide ongoing education and support to your employees. Offer informational resources, such as brochures, FAQs, and online portals, to help employees understand the IVF process, navigate insurance coverage, and access support services. Facilitate access to fertility education seminars, webinars, or workshops conducted by healthcare professionals or fertility experts to raise awareness of fertility challenges, help reduce workplace stigma, and empower employees to make choices about their reproductive health.

It's also good practice to establish a dedicated point of contact within HR or signpost to your specialized fertility benefits provider advisors to offer personalized guidance and support to employees throughout their fertility journey.

Future trends in IVF and fertility workplace benefits

Advancements in assisted reproductive technologies are ever-changing. As are the needs and expectations of the global workforce as a result of their demographics and societal shifts. To continue to be at the forefront of innovative and effective employee fertility benefits, it's important to take a proactive approach to such changes.

Evolving employee expectations

By 2025, millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce, with Gen Z close behind. These cohorts have different views, priorities and challenges than the generations before them. These change the layout of fertility benefit demands in several ways:

Delaying parenthood: Many individuals and couples are delaying parenthood due to various factors such as pursuing higher education, establishing careers, and financial stability. As a result, there is a growing need for fertility treatments, including IVF, among older age groups who may encounter age-related fertility challenges.

Increasing prevalence of infertility: Changes in lifestyle factors, environmental influences, and medical conditions have contributed to a rise in infertility rates globally. Additionally, societal trends such as later marriages and delayed childbearing can increase the likelihood of fertility issues. Consequently, there is a greater demand for fertility benefits to support individuals and couples facing infertility challenges.

Expanding definitions of family: Societal norms around family structure and parenthood have evolved, leading to increased recognition and support for diverse family-building paths. This includes same-sex couples, single parents by choice, and individuals undergoing fertility treatments with donor gametes or surrogacy. As a result, inclusive fertility benefits that accommodate diverse family-building journeys are becoming increasingly sought after by job seekers.

Preconception care to avoid fertility treatments

Another emerging trend comes from those employers leaning into robust preconception care as a way to minimize the number of employees who actually need to seek fertility treatments. By utilizing preconception care, employers can improve the early identification of health risks that can impact the fertility of their employees, increase fertility awareness, improve mental health in relation to infertility and undergoing IVF treatment and drastically reduce the financial burden of the family-building journey. For example, with Maven, 30% of Fertility members achieve pregnancy without needing assisted reproductive technology treatment.

Providing best-in-class fertility care with Maven

Fertility benefits can not only help employees with how to pay for IVF; they can make a significant and long-lasting positive impact on health and well-being outcomes for individuals, and business outcomes for your organization.

To be truly effective they need to meet the ever-changing needs and expectations of your workforce and should extend beyond subsidizing the cost of infertility treatments. Instead, HR leaders should craft comprehensive packages and policies that support employees at all stages; from preconception through to balancing work and family life when children come along. Our State of Women's and Family Health Benefits report offers further insight into the trends occurring within the employee benefits sphere.

HR leaders are a crucial component of creating, implementing, and monitoring IVF benefits that make a difference. Finding the right provider to partner with can make the entire process more straightforward.

When you choose Maven, your employees will receive trustworthy, personalized, clinically sound care that puts them and their family-building goals first.

Learn more about Maven's fertility benefits solutions by booking a demo today.

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