Infertility affects one in eight Americans today – or about 7.4 million men and women – more than those impacted by diabetes, breast cancer, or Alzheimer’s Disease. As infertility becomes more pervasive among women in the workplace, employers who provide support, patience and understanding for their employees during their fertility journey can reap the inherent benefits of happy and productive employees.
In addition to women, same sex couples and other members of the LGBTQ community, as well as single men and women, are redefining the concept of fertility. Regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, we all come from families and the desire to have children is no different among all individuals.
Although once unheard of as an employee benefit, employer-covered fertility benefits and other family-building benefits like adoption and surrogacy are now becoming more of a necessity in the workplace. There are several driving forces behind the employer shift to offer fertility benefits to employees:
A Shift in Workplace Demographics
As of 2016, 57.2 percent of women participated in the U.S. workforce. Among them are a large majority of Millennials (55 percent) who believe marriage and children are not as important as education and economic accomplishments. This desire to put off having children until they achieve desired success has pushed the fertility rate to new lows. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, birthrates declined to record lows in all groups under age 30. Yet, fertility increased among older women. These statistics suggest that overall, women are pushing the boundaries of having children later in their reproductive years.
In addition, marriage equality is now legal nationwide. This means that LGBTQ and same sex couples are also benefitting from fertility, adoption, and surrogacy coverage to start and grow their families, not to mention single men and women who are searching for a path to parenthood.
A Quest to Recruit and Retain Top Talent
With a strong economy, employees often have more choices about where to work, which creates increased competition among employers for talent recruitment and retention. Growth in fertility benefits coverage is occurring among employers in industries that face the strongest competition for talent. For employers, offering fertility benefits is a way to support employees’ financial and social well-being, as well as their physical health. In many cases, employers want to have a diverse and inclusive policy and be viewed as family-friendly. Offering a fertility benefit delivers a powerful impact on employee retention.
The Concept of Inclusive Benefits
Today, more than ever before, employers are offering inclusive benefits. This means that a benefit offered to one employee must be offered to all employees. This concept makes perfect sense when you consider that in today’s world, building a family is becoming a right for anyone who aspires to become a parent – whether straight, a member of the LGBTQ community, married or single. And, the path to becoming a family is becoming more diverse as well, with a variety of techniques that include egg freezing, adoption and surrogacy, as well as egg and sperm donation.
Advantages in Offering Fertility Benefits
In addition to recruiting and retaining talent, there are other valuable reasons why employers are offering, and even expanding fertility benefits:
The stress caused by infertility takes a toll on an individual’s emotional and physical health. An employer that offers benefits to help couples and singles explore various treatment options and pursue those most likely to help, earns a high degree of loyalty from the employees who avail themselves of these programs. According to RESOLVE, the National Fertility Association, employees have strong, positive feelings toward employers that offer coverage for fertility treatment.
Supporting Financial Wellness
Employers concerned with the financial wellness of their employees should also consider how the cost of fertility treatments affects employees’ long-term finances when treatment options are not covered by a health plan. Because fertility treatments are expensive and may not succeed the first time, this can place additional financial stress on the employee. Given that the average U.S. household earns $51,000 in pre-tax income and the cost of IVF treatment, with multiple cycles, averages approximately $23,000 (including medication and consulting), fertility coverage makes a real and lifechanging difference for those who need treatment but
could not otherwise afford it.
Studies show that including fertility coverage as part of a healthcare benefits package may result in long-term savings and better outcomes, compared with the
short-term savings of no fertility benefits. Without these benefits, employers are responsible for medical costs related to high-risk maternity care (such as C-sections, pre-term births and NICU expenses) as well as covering long-term health care costs for conditions associated with premature birth and multiple gestations such as asthma and cerebral palsy, and developmental issues in preemies as they grow up. Research shows that an average NICU admission can have a 20-day length of stay and cost between $40,000-$80,000, a cost the employers would certainly want to avoid.
Good Public Relations
Companies earn positive PR in the community and a reputation as a “family friendly” employer when they provide support for family building with fertility benefits.