How to Make Your Benefits More Inclusive (and Why it Matters)
In a frenzied labor market, fertility benefits have become an imperative tool for employers across industries to recruit and retain valuable talent. As more companies witness the success of these benefit programs being implemented by their peers and competitors, the number of employers who offer fertility benefits has consistently grown by 8% year-over-year.
Yet, conventional fertility benefits may not meet the family-building needs of all employees, leaving LGBTQ+ employees, women who are unable to carry a baby to term, and single people out of the loop. In order to cater to all employees, an inclusive family-building benefit that redefines infertility and includes adoption and surrogacy can be the answer.
Infertility for opposite-sex couples, to qualify for benefit access, has a set definition that same-sex couples and single women cannot meet. In order to prove infertility, same-sex female singles and couples often need to pay out of pocket for intrauterine insemination using donor sperm for 6 months to 1 year.
The cost involved in seeking a diagnosis of infertility this way can be prohibitive and does not apply to opposite-sex couples, creating a discouraging imbalance for same-sex couples and single people. By waiving the requirement for a diagnosis of infertility, all employees seeking to build their family can have a more equitable experience. WIN’s benefits are designed with an inclusive definition of infertility in mind, allowing a wider array of employees to access the treatments they need to become parents.
Why Employees Need Surrogacy Coverage
Conventional fertility benefits typically cover IVF treatment, including fertility medications, and sometimes fertility preservation (egg and sperm freezing). However, there are a number of instances where an employee needs more resources in order to build their family. For same-sex male couples, single men, or women who cannot carry a child, surrogacy can be the only viable path to parenthood. A surrogate is a woman who carries a baby to term for another person or couple. In most cases she is not genetically related to the child, which is known as gestational surrogacy.
Male same-sex couples require a gestational surrogate to have a child biologically related to one of them. Opposite-sex couples may need a surrogate for a number of different reasons, such as absence of a uterus, an impaired uterus, cancer or a chronic health problem that makes it unsafe or impossible for a woman to carry a child. A single man may pursue traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate’s own egg is used, in order to have a child.
The cost of surrogacy includes fertility treatment costs, medical costs during the pregnancy, legal fees, lost wages and any other incurred costs related to the surrogacy. Surrogacy can cost $100,000 or more, with the additional cost of egg donation if needed. When this expense is not covered by benefits, having a biological child can be cost-prohibitive for many. In addition to surrogacy benefits, WIN provides personalized guidance and support for those pursuing surrogacy by referring prospective parents to one of several experienced and credentialed surrogacy agencies in our network. WIN Nurse Care Managers educate and support parents-to-be along the way by teaching them about their surrogates’ journey.
Adoption as an Option
Each year, thousands of families are made or expanded through adoption. This path to parenthood is a wonderful option for many by doubling as a chance to build a family and help a child in need. As employer-provided adoption benefits are becoming more common, this method of family-building can become more accessible to all.
Couples may choose adoption as their path to parenthood because they have exhausted fertility treatment options, or they view adoption as a compassionate response to children in need of families. Single people may pursue adoption to build a family as well. In fact, singles made up nearly 28 percent of those adopting from foster care based on data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.
The costs of adoption vary greatly, depending on whether an employee is adopting from foster care, from an agency in the U.S., or an overseas adoption through an agency. Adoption benefits generally cover three areas: information resources, financial assistance, and parental leave. Financial assistance helps cover legal and agency fees, which can vary from $20,000 to $50,000 or more.
Recent surveys by Mercer show that nearly half of employers offer some kind of financial support for adoption. In addition to financial support, WINFertility provides guidance throughout an employee’s adoption journey, including education about the adoption process and claim processing. Our partnerships also give members access to an online video library, resources and templates, as well as expert coaches that assist employees through the adoption or surrogacy process.
Expanding the scope of fertility benefits to include family-building options for all helps employers provide a more welcoming and inclusive environment, which in turn bolsters DEI initiatives and attracts a wider variety of talented employees. Click here to learn more about WINFertility’s inclusive family building services.