Today, 1 in 8 couples experience an infertility diagnosis. Many couples will turn to assisted reproductive technology (ART) when they have difficulty conceiving. In 2015 (the most recent year reported), the number of IVF cycles reached an all-time high at 231,936 cycles, according to the CDC. FertilityIQ recently surveyed over 10,000 U.S. IVF patients and found that the cost of IVF including medications totaled over $20,000 per cycle, and that most patients needed at least two cycles during treatment. That’s nearly equivalent to the average U.S. household income of $51,000. Who is paying for this fertility treatment?
Mostly, It’s the Patient Who Pays
Over 60 percent of patients and employees surveyed by FertilityIQ had no coverage for fertility treatment. That means patients are paying more than $40,000 out of pocket to attempt to have a child. At the other end of the scale, 20 percent of patients received complete insurance coverage of all their costs. The remaining people had some portion of their costs covered by their companies’ insurance plan.
Providing a Competitive Edge
Industries that are highly competitive and depend on recruiting and retaining highly talented individuals are more likely to provide coverage for fertility treatment. Technology companies came in first in FertilityIQ’s industry rankings, followed by consulting and audit, banking and finance, and media and publishing. Some firms offer fertility coverage worth over $100,000 per employee. Yet in industries like banking, LGBTQ employees have had difficulty accessing coverage due to requirements to demonstrate they have tried heterosexual intercourse to get pregnant, according to the survey.
What This Means for Employers
FertilityIQ found that the number of U.S. companies offering an IVF benefit grew by 10 percent in 2017. Why would employers do this? Employee recruitment, loyalty and retention are increasingly important for many companies. The cost of turnover is prohibitive, especially in highly competitive industries. And fertility coverage is more in demand for people in their 30s and 40s. In another recent survey more than 70 percent of millennials said they would change jobs to access fertility benefits.
At the recently held national meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), fertility coverage for employees was a significant subject under discussion. Sean Tipton, ASRM’s Chief Advocacy, Policy and Development Officer stated “the decision to cover fertility treatments does not lie with the insurance companies. Employers make that decision…Most insurances companies would offer it if their customers – the employers – push for it.” Clearly, US employers are beginning to respond to the needs of their employees.