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Offering Fertility Benefits to Your Employees: Everything You Need to Know

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

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It’s easy to take parenthood for granted and believe that starting a family will just happen whenever you’re ready. But that’s not the reality for 1 in 6 people worldwide who face an infertility diagnosis—defined as struggling to achieve pregnancy within one year of trying to conceive. These infertility rates are comparable for high, middle, and low-income countries, demonstrating this is a global problem that could impact anyone, including the men and women in your workforce. 

The bottom line: Access to fertility benefits may be the only way some of your employees can become parents. This article digs deep into what fertility benefits include, why you should offer them, and how to set up your organization’s family formation program. 

Understanding fertility benefits

Fertility benefits are services designed to support your employees in starting or adding to a family. The benefits may include the financial costs involved with: 

  • Medical treatments
  • Counseling and mental health support 
  • Adoption and surrogacy 

It’s hard to define why some people struggle to conceive, but common reasons for receiving an infertility diagnosis may include: 

  • Age
  • Smoking 
  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs 
  • Poor diet 
  • Being underweight, overweight, or obese 
  • Significant stress resulting in amenorrhea, the absence of a menstrual cycle 
  • Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome 

Whatever the cause of the struggle, offering flexible fertility assistance as part of your medical or lifestyle benefits ensures that every employee in your workforce can gain a helping hand in starting a family. 

8 types of fertility benefits for employees

There’s a vast range of support available for employees who are trying to conceive. Below are some of the benefits you might incorporate into your fertility program. 

Fertility medications

Some fertility drugs will be used as part of an assisted reproductive technology cycle such as IVF. Others may be used to encourage ovulation for a natural conception. These drugs can significantly increase the chances of a successful pregnancy, but the costs can add up quickly. You might consider making the following list of drugs eligible as part of your program: 

  • Clomid: Stimulates the pituitary gland to encourage ovulation with the hormone clomiphene citrate 
  • Letrozole: An aromatase inhibitor that stimulates ovulation
  • Gonadotropins: Injectable hormones that prevent a woman from ovulating and are therefore compatible with in vitro fertilization cycles 
  • Metformin: To treat insulin resistance in women with PCOS, which can affect fertility 

IVF and ICSI techniques 

Fertility treatment can be invasive, expensive, and may require multiple cycles to achieve success. Some common assisted reproductive techniques include: 

  • In vitro fertilization (IVF): The eggs are removed from a woman’s body and fertilized in a laboratory setting. The resulting embryos are then transferred back into the uterus for implantation.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): In this enhanced form of IVF,  a single sperm is injected directly into an egg, which is then transferred to the uterus. 

Your fertility care program could cover a portion or all of the costs of these procedures to alleviate the financial burden for employees struggling to afford fertility treatments on their own. Forbes reports that a single IVF cycle costs $15,000 to $20,000, depending on the patient’s individual treatment needs, and may sometimes reach $30,000. The price may include basic fertility testing, monitoring appointments, bloodwork, egg retrieval, and follow-up care, but may also include more advanced services like genetic testing.

Going through an assisted reproductive cycle can be harrowing, but the results can be life-changing, as described by Clare Sofield, Managing Director at Four Recruitment: 

“Thank god for science; otherwise, I would not have Ruby in my life; it’s that simple. The whole process of IVF and seeing the embryo on screen is mindblowing, and then knowing that the embryo is now Ruby. I know how bloody hard the process is, and honestly, a rollercoaster does not come close... but god, it’s worth it.”

Egg and embryo freezing 

Egg and embryo freezing acts as an insurance policy for women who may need to delay conceiving due to health concerns, career advancement, or other personal reasons. 

Research from the New York University Langone Fertility Center suggests that freezing eggs or embryos as early as possible will result in a greater chance of a successful pregnancy later on.

  • Women who froze their eggs at an average age of 38.3 years had a 39% of a live birth
  • Women younger than 38 had a 51% chance of a live birth 
  • Women younger than 38 who thawed 20 or more eggs had a 70% chance of a live birth 

The data shows that not only is age a factor, but the probability of a live birth is also influenced by the quantity of eggs frozen and thawed. For many women, this will require multiple egg retrieval rounds to build a strong enough supply. But with the average cost of an egg retrieval cycle at $10,000; the thawing and fertilization cost of $5,000 to $7,000; embryo testing costs of $3,000; and ongoing frozen egg storage of $1,000 per year, the expense may be out of reach to many employees unless available as part of a fertility benefits program. 

Sperm banking 

As another form of fertility preservation, sperm freezing can offer the same peace of mind as egg and embryo freezing. With this option, sperm is collected and frozen for future use in fertility treatments. It may also provide a backup plan for those undergoing cancer treatment or other medical procedures that could affect future fertility. Additionally, sperm banking may be used in donor cycles. 

The cost of sperm freezing varies but usually includes a fee for sperm collection and analysis, then ongoing storage costs for freezing. While the precise costs vary, expect the fee to be significantly lower than egg or embryo freezing. For example, Hopkins Medicine estimates the cost between $100 to $500 per year

Donor programs 

Egg and sperm donor programs allow individuals or couples to use donated eggs or sperm to conceive a child. This option is beneficial for same-sex couples, single parents, or anyone unable to conceive with their own eggs or sperm. 

The costs of donor sperm and egg programs vary depending on the specific program and services needed. For example, the Advanced Fertility Center in Chicago charges $28,000 per donor cycle, of which the donor receives $7,000 to $9,000. 

Adoption 

1 in 25 families with children have adopted in the U.S., according to the Adoption Network. Adoption isn’t always associated with infertility; some families may choose adoption to provide a child the opportunity for a better life. But in either scenario, adoption can be an expensive process that may require financial assistance, as part of a fertility benefits package. 

For example, Family Equality states that the cost of adopting an infant through an independent attorney or through an adoption agency can reach $20,000 to $45,000, depending on your location. This fee may include: 

  • Home study fee
  • Adoption agency fees 
  • Legal fees
  • Medical expenses 
  • Counseling
  • Travel expenses 

Surrogacy

47 U.S. states permit, regulate, or do not expressly prevent surrogacy, with Michigan, Louisiana, and Nebraska the exceptions. Surrogacy occurs when a woman carries and delivers another person’s baby. This option may be a solution for same-sex couples and individuals or couples who are unable to carry their child due to health concerns or other reasons. 

Surrogacy is a complex process involving legal contracts, medical procedures, and significant financial costs. Sensible Surrogacy states that the average surrogate receives $50,000 to $60,000, paid in monthly installments, plus up to $10,000 in various other benefits. 

Emotional support 

Trying to conceive a child isn’t just hard on the body; it can also take an emotional toll on your mind. Studies reveal the psychological distress that both partners may experience, which includes anger, guilt, sadness, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. 

Compared to some of the high costs involved in improving reproductive health, emotional support is inexpensive. Yet, access to counselors or alternative therapists like reflexologists or acupuncturists can make a tremendous difference to your employee’s mental health during this difficult time. Another persuasive reason to add emotional support to your fertility benefits program is that tackling stress and anxiety can positively impact a person’s ability to conceive. 

A large-scale federally funded Mind/Body program aimed at tackling the emotional aspects of the fertility journey resulted in 55% of female participants conceiving within six months of program completion. In contrast, only 20% of the control group who didn’t use mind-body techniques also conceived.

Why offer fertility benefits?

Supporting your workers beyond the typical 9 to 5 role isn’t just the right thing to do. It also has clear business benefits, as described below: 

Demonstrates financial and emotional support 

Designing a nurturing talent experience that offers choice and support on a personal level demonstrates your care and appreciation for employees. There are multiple ways to improve your employer brand; but, by eliminating one of the biggest stressors in a person’s life, employees are more likely to remain loyal and motivated at work. 

Speaking on the Employee Benefits News podcast, Nubundle’s co-founder John Ciasulli explains how family forming benefits can influence the employees’ perspective of their employer: 

“The purpose of benefits is to show them that they’re committing a portion of their life to you and to the company. As the company, you’re committed back to them in a way that supports them. Your benefits are your primary means of communicating your values as a company. If your values align with supporting family, then your benefits are going to reflect that.” 

Improved productivity 

Like any physical or mental health concern, fertility is an issue that can easily impact an employee’s day-to-day role. From being aware of ovulation windows to remembering to take fertility drugs, many stressors can detract from a person’s work. But John Ciasulli believes that infertility benefits can relieve some of the admin involved in family planning to improve productivity among team members. He explains: 

“If you have benefits that provide concierge medical support, that’s less time that employees are spending booking their appointments or searching for a doctor, or trying to find answers to questions on Google. Most employees do that at work.” 

Attracting and retaining early career professionals  

Enticing Gen Z talent is a key priority for many hiring managers, and we know from SHRM research that 61% of this group would consider leaving their jobs for better mental health support. As family formation is such an emotional and personal issue, fertility can be a crucial driver of employee retention, as explained by John Ciasulli: 

“It’s hard to quantify, but surveys show people’s willingness to change jobs for specific benefits. If you have a high-performing salesperson and you lose them, it takes four months of their sales you’ve lost, plus finding that new employee, plus training them. There are real dollars there.”

Cost savings 

Some employers shy away from adding fertility coverage to their benefits packages, believing them to be expensive or out of reach. Here’s why upfront support can save employers in the long run: 

  • Attractive family planning benefits improve retention which saves on recruitment costs
  • Upfront mental health insurance coverage can reduce spending on related absenteeism
  • Egg freezing or embryo freezing can decrease future spending on expensive IVF treatments

Potential roadblocks in offering fertility benefits

As with any type of benefit, you may come up against some obstacles when you roll out your fertility benefits. But you can overcome them with some sensible planning: 

Ensuring inclusivity 

The biggest consideration will be determining who your family forming benefits are available to. These might include: 

  • Employees of any gender or sexual orientation
  • Same-sex couples wishing to adopt or conceive
  • Employees of any marital status 
  • Employees facing infertility themselves or whose partners are struggling with fertility 
  • Employees who already have one or more children but have yet to “complete” their families 
  • Employees of any length of tenure
  • Employees working full-time or part-time schedules

Gregory Rozdeba, CEO of Dundas Life, advises: 

“As an employee benefits professional, my advice when setting up family-forming and fertility benefits plans is to emphasize inclusivity and comprehensive coverage. It’s important to design a plan that caters to various paths to parenthood, including adoption and surrogacy, not just fertility treatments. Also, ensure that the benefits are accessible to all employees, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Providing clear, easy-to-understand information about how to utilize these benefits is also crucial. A well-thought-out plan not only supports your employees’ family goals but also enhances overall job satisfaction and loyalty.”

Setting up the right partnerships 

Standard medical plans don’t always cover fertility services, so you’ll likely need to outsource support for your employees. You may also want to consider partnering with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or other mental health support providers to offer additional resources and assistance. Access to trusted and reputable organizations ensures your employees have the best possible care and support. 

Adhering to compliance 

Family-forming or fertility benefits must ensure the welfare of your employees while being legally compliant, with requirements possibly varying by state or country. John Truong, Managing Director and Attorney, Alliance Compensation & Litigation Lawyers, advises: 

“Be cognizant of anti-discrimination legislation which outlaws discrimination based on pregnancy or family status, and construct your benefits plan in a manner that is inclusive and sensitive. Consult legal professionals to verify that your plan complies with all pertinent laws and regulations, promoting compliance and employee welfare.” 

How to set up your family forming and fertility benefits program

Adding fertility coverage to your benefits program is easy with Benepass. We have two options for organizations that wish to support every employee with their fertility health. 

Our Benepass Family Care and Formation Account supports all employees, regardless of their life stage or family structure. For example: 

  • Grace, aged 31, from Minneapolis, MN, uses Benepass to pay for fertility services through Kindbody while trying to conceive her first child. 
  • Hector, aged 40, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, uses his Benepass to subsidize daycare for his 4-year-old son so he can work in the office. 
  • Andrea, aged 36, from St. Louis, MO, uses Benepass to pay for adoption services while trying to adopt a second child. 

A lifestyle spending account is another option designed to give all employees the flexibility and choice to select the most relevant benefits for their life situation. With an LSA, the employer funds the account, and the employee chooses from a range of eligible benefits, which may include family formation benefits, wellness perks, tuition support, and more. 

In either case, it’s easy to set up an account in four easy steps: 

  • You choose your benefits program and what qualifies under it, for example, infertility services, adoption and surrogacy assistance, fertility preservation procedures, etc. 
  • We’ll code your unique fertility benefits offering into the Benepass platform and your Visa Benepass card. 
  • We’ll connect Benepass with your payroll system for automatic enrollment. 
  • You’ll communicate your offered fertility benefits to your employees and invite them to join Benepass. 

Curious about how much companies are offering their employees in family care and formation benefits? The 2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide found that companies offer an average of $10,420 in parental support benefits, which may cover childcare, fertility services, and more. Download the complete guide to benchmark these benefits by company size and industry. 

2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide

Ready to support every individual in your organization with their family-building journey? Book a Benepass demo today or contact sales@getbenepass.com with any queries. Read up on other stipends that can complement a family care and formation account and further support employee well-being:

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Rebecca Noori

Rebecca Noori is a freelance HR Tech and SaaS writer who is obsessed with our world of work. She writes about everything from employee benefits and performance management to upskilling and productivity tips. When she's not writing, you'll find her grappling with phonics homework and football kits, looking after her three kids.

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