Over the years, employers have increasingly made room to support their employees’ fertility needs. Thus, fertility benefits at work have become more common. Is this something you’re considering offering in your own company? What are the advantages? What might it cost you? Let’s dive in!
Wait, What Do We Mean by “Fertility Benefits?”
Let’s start at the beginning. Fertility benefits can refer to a very wide range of treatments and services that you might cover for your employees. These can include:
- In-vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Fertility tracking.
- Egg freezing.
- Gestational carrier services.
- Donor sperm or eggs.
- Infertility diagnosis.
Benefits can even extend to offering support groups and confidential communication channels, educational resources, and flexible work hours/arrangements.
Some people mistakenly think that fertility benefits revolve solely around those trying to get pregnant. However, this doesn’t tell the full story. In actuality, fertility health is directly linked to overall wellness. For instance, the hormones involved in fertility also impact other issues like insulin resistance, diabetes, and menstruation. Realistically, this type of coverage isn’t all that different from your traditional health, dental, and vision coverage, which most employers see the need for. (Sick days are expensive for employers! Comprehensive health coverage often saves them money.) This is also why, yes, discussions around fertility benefits absolutely belong in the workplace — as untraditional as it may seem.
In fact, fertility benefits at work are seeing a marked increase. The International Association of Employee Benefit Plans said that 40% of organizations in the US included fertility benefits as part of their 2023 coverage. Three years prior, this number was only 30%.
Furthermore, it’s important in the wider conversation of inclusivity and equal access to healthcare. Millions of people in the world rely on their employers to help with affordable healthcare. Things become complicated when we consider the ongoing gender pay gap, in addition to the fact that people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community often have a harder time getting the care they need. There are serious barriers for them when it comes to trying to grow their families. This ends up putting much of the burden on these individuals to manage all of their healthcare costs out of pocket. And consider, for context, that one cycle of IVF can be as much as $25,000. Sometimes, five or six cycles are needed!
When insurance plans are robust enough to cover things like fertility, everybody wins.
Should I Offer Fertility Benefits at Work?
Well, if you can afford it, then you should seriously consider it! (We’ll come back to this in a moment.) Remember that when you offer healthcare benefits to your employees, it’s an investment — not an expense. When you invest in their health, you:
- Save money in the long run by protecting their wellness.
- Improve morale and employees’ loyalty to your company.
- Foster a diverse and inclusive workplace.
This means that by offering robust healthcare, you might better retain your employees. And you don’t need me to tell you how expensive it can be to find, interview, hire, and train new employees. Yes, there is data to back this up! According to survey results shared by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 56% of adults in the US with health benefits at work said that how much they like (or don’t like) their coverage is a key factor when considering whether or not they’ll stay at their job. Additionally, 46% said that health insurance was either the deciding factor or at least a positive influence when choosing their current job.
Now, let’s talk about the cost to the company. There are various ways that you can support your employees with fertility benefits at work. For example, you can offer a health stipend. This is a fixed sum of money — usually added to their paycheck — that they can use for medical services. It offers flexibility in that you can choose how much you want to offer. Employers can fairly easily set up a stipdent for just about anything, and the money is easier for your employees to access.
On the other hand, you have an option called an integrated HRA. This is a tax-free reimbursement that helps cover your employees’ out-of-pocket costs for services and testing that aren’t included in their insurance plan. Similar to a stipend, the amount you can offer is unlimited.
Worth noting is that one survey found that 97% of employers who started offering fertility benefits at work saw no significant increase in costs. But every business is different, and every insurance plan is different. The best thing you can do is talk to your company’s provider, your lawyer, and your accountant to learn more about what your options are.
The Bottom Line
One day, in the not-too-distant future, fertility benefits at work will hopefully be as commonplace as dental. Not only can it be a relatively minor cost to employers, but it can also make a significant difference for employees. From fertility tracking and IVF to carrier services and egg freezing, supporting your employees’ fertility journeys can be lifechanging.
There’s been a huge shift in the workplace, largely because of the pandemic. Employees are looking for balance, convenience, and a greater sense of satisfaction at work. They enjoy working from home because it saves them a commute and is far more comfortable. They appreciate flexible hours so that they can be with their family. And healthcare benefits are seriously important to them. If you can help look after their health in a holistic way, everyone involved will benefit as a result.