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Why companies should offer fertility benefits

Alleviating at least some of the financial burden of fertility treatment creates happier, more productive, and fulfilled employees who know they’re valued.

Why companies should offer fertility benefits
[Photo: vadimguzhva/iStock]

Americans are getting married for the first time later in life, and they are also delaying having children. This makes discussions around fertility—and infertility—vital. With most households boasting two full-time professionals, families not only have to learn the work/life balance that best suits their needs but make time for making and having a baby, too. Though the bulk of the burden of infertility often falls to women since they’re often the ones carrying the children, it’s actually the responsibility and hardship of both parties as they navigate this painful and difficult period.

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Companies are becoming more acutely aware of the need for comprehensive health packages that highlight and assist in fertility treatments. The most commonly used method, in vitro fertilization (IVF)  costs around $20,000 for each round (and couples often have to go though more than one round to have a successful pregnancy). Similarly, egg freezing can easily run up to $10,000 or more. For most people, nearly all fertility treatments aren’t covered under their employer’s insurance plan and have to be paid for out of pocket. New York State recently passed a law that would require large-scale insurance plans to cover up to three cycles of IVF or any medically necessary fertility preservation procedures. The hope is more states will take their lead.

As executive director for The Adoption Consultancy, Nicole Witt explains, offering fertility assistance and providing flexibility to your employees in the workplace can be a huge benefit to employees. “Fertility treatments don’t only mean IVF or egg donation—they can include getting acupuncture, going to an infertility spa, or taking a meditation class,” she continues. “All those factors and services are very helpful when trying to conceive.”

Though Facebook, Google, and a few others are well-known for their extensive health insurance, companies like Progyny are making it easier for smaller scale brands to provide some help to employees who are struggling to conceive. Here’s how some are going above and beyond for those who want to grow their families.

Consider what will make your employees less stressed

As the senior vice president of global human resources for Cadence Design Systems, Tina Jones puts it, there are few things that can bring as much joy as becoming a parent. However, she adds this important caveat: The path to parenthood can be physically, emotionally, and financially challenging. Because of this, they offer their United States employees adoption and surrogacy benefits up to $15,000 and generous leave programs. For those on their non-HMO medical plans, they also have access to fertility coverage.

Though it may seem like a recent trend, it’s not for Cadence. They’ve been offering infertility benefits for more than 20 years. The reasoning? Alleviating at least some of the financial burden creates happier, more productive, and fulfilled employees who know they’re valued. Jones urges companies to ensure their medical and time-off programs meet the needs of those who become parents traditionally, as well as those who need advanced or alternative methods. And of course: listen to your employees; if they’re asking for it, there’s a need.

Consider the whole wellness picture

Considering they’re a fertility benefits management company, vice president of people Cassandra Pratt says Progyny is well aware of how important it is to support employees going through infertility struggles. At the start of 2017, they implemented their own program, which features the services they offer to their clients, as well as other thoughtful additions. “We include more upfront paid time off at the start each year and allow flexible work schedules to provide time for monitoring, procedures, and personal wellness,” she explains. “We also added pharmacy coverage to further alleviate the cost burden. We wanted to address all aspects of the fertility journey, and while cost reduction through our benefit plays a significant role, it’s not the only aspect.”

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In addition to researching—and investing in—options that fit your size and business, Pratt says having an open, welcoming, and inclusive dialogue around fertility goes a long way in fostering a culture. “Proactively starting the discussion with employees will begin to open the communication channels,” she adds. “Let them know that they can talk with their supervisor or HR about their emotional journey and what they need in order to be successful at work while dealing with infertility. Many people choose not to talk about family building in a professional setting, but the option to do so should give employees some peace of mind.”

Remember to be inclusive

With or without a medical diagnosis of infertility, MassMutual offers fertility benefits to their employees. This was important for their policy development, since they wanted to be inclusive of everyone—including the LGBTQ community and single parents by choice. They don’t provide a dollar amount, but rather, they cover the cost of two full cycles that are customized to the individual. For those who choose to adopt, they’ll cover the expenses, and they’re in the process of developing a similar benefit for surrogacy.

The head of human resources and employee experience, Sue Cicco, says they took a holistic review of their benefits in an effort to modernize and support the well-being of a multigenerational and increasingly diverse workforce. “Our enhanced fertility benefits recognize that the decision to start or grow a family is a time in an employee’s life that can be both exhilarating and confusing,” she shares. “Everyone’s journey to parenthood is different, and our company wanted to support working parents in a more comprehensive and inclusive way.”

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