HR Leads Business

Feb 12, 2020 | Tom Anderson

Should You Offer Fertility Benefits?

Infertility is a widespread and costly problem for millions of families. One in eight couples has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Approximately 9% of men and 11% of women of reproductive age in the United States have experienced fertility problems, and U.S. fertility hit an all-time low in 2018, according to National Center for Health Statistics.

Meanwhile, more people are turning to expensive fertility treatments to start a family. FertilityIQ, which assesses doctors, procedures and clinics, estimates that the number of in vitro fertilization treatments will rise to 400,000 this year, tripling the figure from 2008. The average fertility patient undergoes more than two treatments, so the cumulative IVF costs for most patients can range from $40,000 to $60,000.

What role should employers play in this growing segment of health care? “The majority of the U.S. workforce is 24 to 38 years old, and more than half are women,” says Juli Insinger, co-founder of Carrot Fertility, which provides fertility benefits to Box, Peleton, Slack, Stitch Fix and other employers. “There’s a growing demand for fertility benefits among this demographic, as people wait longer to start families or they need more inclusive paths to parenthood like surrogacy and adoption.” 

Here are three things to consider when deciding whether to offer fertility benefits.

More Employers Are Offering Fertility Benefits 

Given the tight labor market, more employers are helping make the fertility journey of their employees easier. 

Fertility benefits have grown among both large and small employers. Nearly one-third of employers with 500 or more employees offer fertility benefits, up from 24% in 2016, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Among employers with 50 or fewer employees, 10% provide some sort of fertility benefit, a 4% increase from 2016.

Consulting, finance and technology companies offer the most generous fertility perks, according to a FertilityIQ analysis. However, the rise of employer-sponsored fertility benefits has not led to a significant drop in the percentage of patients who pay for IVF treatments out-of-pocket, which hovers around 60%.

Fertility Benefits Vary Significantly by Sponsor

The value of the employer-sponsored benefit can range from $5,000 to more than $100,000 per employee. Of course, there are always outliers. For example, two management consulting firms, Bain & Company and Boston Consulting Group, provide unlimited fertility coverage for employees.

Employers offer a variety of fertility benefits, but there is no standard model. Nearly one-quarter of employers subsidize IVF treatments and 18% provide fertility drugs, while only 9% extend fertility counseling services to their employees, according to the IFEPB.

The lack of fertility guidance for employees can be problematic when offering fertility benefits. “Basic knowledge around ovulation and fertility are critical first steps to understanding the types of interventions needed,” says Cathy Sebag, co-founder and CEO of Hela Health, which provides tools to help women manage their health care.

Employees Highly Value Fertility Benefits

Fertility benefits can be a powerful tool to attract talent. More than two-thirds of workers were willing to change jobs to ensure they had infertility coverage, according to a survey by Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey

These benefits also can enhance workforce demographics. “Companies are striving for more female representation,” says Lyndsey Clabby, co-founder of myMindBodyBaby, which provides infertility treatment guides and mental well-being tools to employers. “Adding fertility benefits is often a way to help attract female talent.”

Few perks can match the power of fertility benefits when it comes to employee loyalty. FertilityIQ finds that 62% of employees who had their IVF treatments covered reported are more likely to remain in their current job for a longer period, while 53% were more willing to overlook the shortcomings of their employer.

“We believe fertility care is a fundamental part of human health care,” Carrot’s Insinger says. “Fertility benefits are on track to become a standard part of a work compensation package alongside health, vision and dental.”