The best companies are constantly striving to create inclusive workplaces, and surrogacy is inextricably linked to supporting and retaining diverse talent. Surrogacy may be one of the only ways to build a genetic family for couples facing infertility, same-sex couples, and single parents by choice. Still, it can be an intensely emotional and costly path to parenthood. Adding surrogacy benefits to your employer package shows your commitment to supporting all families, regardless of how they’re built.

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a form of assisted reproduction in which an aspiring parent or couple works with a third party to carry their baby to term, typically a gestational carrier. The parent or couple can contribute genetic material to the surrogate who will gestate the fertilized egg.

Types of surrogacy

There are two types of surrogacy, gestational and traditional: 

Gestational surrogacy, also known as partial surrogacy or host surrogacy, is the most common type of surrogacy. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate isn’t biologically related to the baby they are carrying. Instead, the embryo forms using IVF, and it may contain the intended mother’s (or donor’s) egg and the intended father’s (or donor’s) sperm. It is then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus. 

Traditional surrogacy is currently much less common than gestational surrogacy, primarily due to legal and emotional complexities. However, it’s still a feasible option for some intended parents. This type of surrogacy requires the surrogate mother to use her own egg artificially inseminated with sperm from the intended father or a donor. The surrogate proceeds to carry and deliver the baby and then gives up her parental rights so that the intended parents can raise the child.

Surrogacy is inherently complex

Surrogacy is by nature a complex process with many moving parts, and it touches so many lives in so many different ways. From the aspiring parents and their gestational carriers, to the lawyers, the clinicians, and even the benefits specialists, the experience of surrogacy is as emotionally complex as it is legally. The hope, the joy, the fear, and the pain of loss are all amplified by the time-consuming processes your employees must endure to achieve successful surrogacy outcomes. For HR teams, it’s crucial to understand how much time and energy this process can take from your employees.

How do surrogacy benefits fit into your DE&I initiatives?

Many of the world’s best places to work are realizing the connection between supporting all paths to parenthood and building more inclusive workplaces. Consequently, the number of employers offering family-building benefits has grown over the past few years. Some larger companies, for example, have worked with their health plan to expand the definition of infertility to allow LGBTQIA+ couples or single women to access their fertility benefits for procedures such as egg freezing or in vitro fertilization (IVF), while close to 30% of large employers plan to add or enhance reimbursement for adoption and surrogacy services. Others are seeking to establish parity across reimbursement benefits for adoption, surrogacy, and fertility. 

However, most plans fall short of the support employees need. Research shows that the lack of adoption and surrogacy options in benefit plans disproportionately affects LGBTQIA+ couples: many health plans require an infertility diagnosis by a medical doctor, which also includes proof of trying for a pregnancy for six months without success—which automatically disqualifies many same-sex couples. Offering comprehensive fertility benefits to all employees, including LGBTQIA+ and single parents, can help your organization build a more inclusive workplace.

Inclusive employers are winning the war for talent

As millennials and Gen Z employees and job seekers demand real action from employers to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion, HR benefits programs offer a timely opportunity to close gaps. 80% of millennials believe inclusion is essential when choosing an employer, and 54% say they would feel more loyal to their employer if they extended fertility benefits to LGBTQIA+ employees. On the other hand, 53% of millennials would leave a job for a more inclusive organization. 

Research also illustrates that diversity matters for an organization’s bottom line, too— according to McKinsey, ethnically and socially diverse companies are more financially successful. The survey shows that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to obtain financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

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How to support employees through the surrogacy process

Pursuing surrogacy is extraordinarily expensive, especially for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Managing gestational carriers, agencies, legal fees, and out-of-pocket expenses can be challenging to handle all at once. The average cost for successful surrogacy is over $100k, and the use of gestational surrogacy tripled in the past decade, but most health plans don’t cover surrogacy for same-sex couples. LGBTQIA+ individuals face even more discrimination. For example, 11 states now permit state-licensed welfare agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex parents based on their moral or religious beliefs. LGBTQIA+ couples also often face uphill battles to be legally recognized as the parents of their child and obtain a birth certificate naming both parents. 

Receiving financial and logistical support from an employer can make or break someone’s ability to take the first steps to form their family—which is why offering fertility and family-building benefits can be a powerful way to support employees. But the benefits shouldn’t stop at monetary backing—navigation and emotional health support are critical, too. In addition to helping fund surrogacy, employers should offer LGBTQIA+ and single employees mental health resources to navigate the strenuous legal process and emotional support to manage the anxiety and stress that can come with it.

Creating a surrogacy benefits program

Building a surrogacy-friendly family benefit has never been easier. You can offer different types of support for surrogacy, from financial assistance and reimbursement to providing access to providers, clinics, and support. Ensure your fertility benefits are comprehensive to help LGBTQIA+ couples and single parents by choice evaluate their options, make decisions, and overcome challenges throughout their unique family-building journey. 

Consider what your employees want and need out of their fertility benefits—start the conversation by running surveys and conducting interviews. Employees need more assistance than the current norm. In addition to helping fund surrogacy or adoption services and clinics, offer LGBTQIA+ and single employees assistance to navigate the strenuous legal process and emotional support to manage the anxiety and stress that can come with it. Further, consider going beyond reimbursement and providing care navigation and emotional support to positively impact your diversity and inclusion goals and improve employee loyalty and recruiting.

Types of employer-assisted surrogacy plans

Reimbursements

Surrogacy reimbursements usually operate with a cap per occurrence or lifetime dollar limit. Coverage often includes the cost of surrogacy (the average price is $100,000 to $150,000), court costs, legal fees, and other out-of-pocket expenses. While not all employers cover the total cost of surrogacy, these reimbursements help to chip away at these expenses. 

Care navigation

One of the most critical gaps in the surrogacy journey is the lack of time intended parents get to spend with their providers, which prevents them from feeling comfortable asking specific questions or airing concerns. Providing Care Advocates for your expecting employees helps them through the process and to in-person agencies, legal services, providers, and partner clinics. Care Advocates also focus on building trust with members, getting to know their lives, families, and needs while acting as sources of truth, allies, and trusted friends throughout the process. 

Fertility benefits

Employers can offer two types of fertility benefits—lifetime maximum benefits or clinically managed solutions. The most common is a lifetime maximum fertility benefit or unmanaged reimbursement with companies providing a maximum dollar amount that will reimburse an individual employee for fertility treatments, including medication, IVF, and IUI. 

Mental health benefits

Your employees may be at risk for depression during and after the surrogacy process, as with any maternal journey. Providing mental health benefits supports the emotional needs of single employees and LGBTQIA+ employees and their partners as they navigate complex and arduous adoption and surrogacy journeys.

Maven supports new parents in and out of the workplace

Maven Care Advocates and providers customize support for every individual’s path to parenthood. Our surrogacy coaches guide LGBTQIA+ and single potential parents through every step of the process—from deciding to become parents via surrogacy to selecting an inclusive agency, finding the right fertility clinic, navigating legal challenges, bringing home a child, and early parenting support. Mental health professionals are also accessible on-demand 24/7 to help aspiring parents with stress, anxiety, and other emotional and mental health challenges. 

Maven offers your employees benefits like:

  • Telehealth support - Unlimited appointments with providers spanning 30+ specialties, including surrogacy coaches, egg donor consultants, reproductive endocrinologists, and more
  • Care navigation - Care Advocates guide members through the platform and to in-person agencies, legal services, providers, and partner clinics
  • Content and community - Personalized content, relevant virtual classes such as Surrogacy 101, and an active forum of users is available for all
  • Financial support - Maven Wallet provides a seamless reimbursement experience for eligible expenses

Request a demo today to discover how Maven can help your company support every path to parenthood and improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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