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Babies and Benefits: How Offering Fertility Benefits Can Increase Employee Loyalty

Inclusive fertility benefits are a powerful way to support every employee's individual path to parenthood.

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Millennials are the largest generation in today’s workforce. For many of them, building a family isn’t quite going to plan. Reproductive issues are on the rise, a global pandemic has delayed family plans for many, and the traditional definition of “family” has changed considerably. But  many insurance companies still have a very narrow definition of infertility, leading to high and often unforeseen costs. 

This whirlwind of factors is prompting more people to seek out fertility education, treatments, and more information surrounding the costs associated with an overwhelming number of options. Employers who offer family planning education, meaningful benefits, and adoption assistance programs can make a profound impact on company culture.  

Understanding the costs 

The average cost of one in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in the U.S. today is $23,474, according to FertilityIq. This number doesn’t even include supplemental treatments that physicians often recommended, such as acupuncture, nutrition planning, meditation, and yoga classes. On top of this, many people require two to three IVF cycles.

Many employers claim to offer fertility benefits, but coverage is often lacking. The majority of employees are looking for additional coverage for embryo adoption, surrogacy, cryopreservation, and more, according to a survey by the Harris Poll for Fortune Magazine. IVF itself ranks a little lower (28% of those surveyed), which could be because insurance plans may provide some coverage. 

Even if insurance plans offer IVF coverage, there are often considerable gaps. For example, an individual may need to hit a large deductible before the policy kicks in. Sometimes, specialty medications are not covered despite being a necessary part of the treatment plan. 

Families that wish to pursue adoption are also faced with astronomical costs, spending anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 throughout the process. But only 1 in 5 companies that offer fertility coverage also provide coverage for adoption assistance, according to the 2021 FertilityIQ Workplace Index. The average coverage for adoption assistance was also around $8,000 per employee versus $36,000 for fertility. These costs can have an especially negative impact on cisgender men in same-sex relationships, or those considering single fatherhood, since the alternative of surrogacy can cost between $100,000 to $200,000

The power of inclusive benefits

The problem with relying solely on insurance plans for fertility and family planning coverage is that it’s not an inclusive approach. Many insurance companies still have outdated policies that don’t take into account the many different ways that families come to be. For example, they often define infertility as “not being able to get pregnant after at least one year of unprotected sex” in women aged 35 and younger. For women over 35, the time period is shortened to 6 months. 

This definition has been criticized because many women in same-sex relationships are not biologically infertile, but simply not part of a heterosexual relationship implied by the definition of infertility. For a woman in a same-sex couple to be considered infertile and qualify for insurance coverage, she must often undergo 6-12 months of inseminations in a doctor’s office, which are paid for out-of-pocket. This definition of infertility also excludes single women who may be interested in other services like egg freezing.

If your company champions diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), family formation benefits that provide coverage to everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, marital status, or medical condition are one way to live out those values. In fact, a recent Mercer survey found that 40% of respondents offer fertility benefits to support DEI efforts. Over a third (35%) of respondents designed the benefit to be available to LGBTQ+ and/or single employees and clearly communicated that to employees. In addition, 61% of respondents that offer IVF coverage also offer reimbursement for adoption expenses. 

Think beyond your insurance plan

A flexible family benefits program will allow your employees to achieve their dreams of a family, regardless of the path they need to take to get there. With an account like this, you can provide funds for employees to use on family formation while giving them more freedom to spend on the items and services that make the most sense for their unique situation. Tax-advantaged programs like adoption assistance, flexible spending accounts (FSA), and health savings accounts (HSA) can also help employees pay for eligible family planning tools. 

Commonly covered items include:

  • Pregnancy tests
  • Ovulation kits 
  • Family planning apps
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF (employees should note that there is a maximum HSA contribution)
  • Vitamins (prenatal vitamins)
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Acupuncture 
  • Medications not covered by insurance 

Additionally, outside of the traditional medical benefits, employers can also use a lifestyle spending account (LSA) to offer employees wellness benefits for everything from mental health to grocery delivery services. Fertility treatments often take a huge toll on a family and any services that can make their day-to-day easier and more efficient will help them be present at work while working toward their personal goals. 

If you have any questions about how to structure a family benefits plan to support fertility planning, reach out to sales@getbenepass.com.

Benepass Team

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