Despite the progress we’ve made to date, the LGBTQ+ community still faces discrimination in areas such as healthcare — especially when it comes to fertility and family forming. Barriers, such as a lack of health insurance coverage and limited benefits options, make it emotionally distressing, logistically challenging, and often financially infeasible for many LGBTQ+ individuals and couples to start a family. Given these obstacles, more employees are turning to their employers to provide them with diverse family-forming options. In this post, we’ll explore how to choose inclusive fertility benefits to support your LGBTQ+ employees.
How LGBTQ+ people are excluded from fertility treatment and coverage
First, let’s understand why there are barriers to starting a family for the LGBTQ+ community. For in vitro fertilization (IVF) to be covered by most health insurance, heterosexual, cisgender couples need to prove they have infertility by trying to get pregnant through regular intercourse for at least a year with no resulting pregnancy.
The problem? This narrow definition of infertility excludes most LGBTQ+ couples, single-intending parents, and anyone pursuing parenthood outside of a heterosexual, cisgender partnership. As a result, IVF — which costs an average of $21,600 — becomes out of reach for people who can’t receive an infertility diagnosis. Also, IVF isn’t always a viable, inclusive path for individuals or couples who want to start a family.
Insurance restrictions and lack of support for other paths to parenthood create significant barriers for the 63% of LGBTQ+ millennials who are considering expanding their families either by becoming parents for the first time or having more children. This is where companies can step in and give their employees more diverse, flexible family-forming options.
5 things employers should look for in LGBTQ+ inclusive fertility benefits
Offering inclusive benefits can give everyone — regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status — the opportunity to start a family. But with so many choices on the market, how do you identify an option that’s actually impactful? Here are five things to look for when selecting fertility benefits:
1. Diverse family-forming options
While IVF and egg freezing are important offerings, they don’t meet the needs of everyone in your employee population. That’s why we encourage HR leaders to make sure their fertility benefit includes options like gestational carrier (GC) services, adoption, foster care, and donor-assisted reproduction, as well.
GC services give individuals and couples the ability to have biological children by using a carrier. Similarly, donor-assisted reproduction, which uses eggs, embryos, or sperm donated by a third party, gives the LGBTQ+ community more options to have children. Adoption is also a popular choice for starting a family, with 21% of same-sex couples having adopted a child compared to only 3% of different-sex couples.
2. Inclusive language
Make sure the vendor you choose is thoughtful and up-to-date with their terminology when it comes to the topic of fertility care. At Carrot, we strongly believe in the importance of using shared, inclusive language to ensure all employees feel safe and understood. For example, words like “artificial,” “non-traditional,” and “alternative” are discriminating, isolating, and hurtful to the people they’re applied to. Any gendered language, such as referring to an individual by the wrong pronoun or assuming that a pregnant person is female and married, is harmful and should be avoided by your benefits partner as well.
3. Access to family-forming services with LGBTQ+ experience
It’s well documented that the LGBTQ+ population faces discrimination in healthcare settings. A survey found that 8% of LGBTQ+ respondents have had a healthcare provider refuse to see them because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Nine percent of LGBTQ+ respondents also said that a health care provider used harsh or abusive language when treating them, while 23% of trans respondents have been intentionally misgendered.
It’s understandable why these behaviors may discourage LGBTQ+ people from seeking care. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that the fertility benefits vendor you choose has an extensive network of LGBTQ+ friendly clinics and providers. This increases the likelihood that your employees will have a positive healthcare experience and receive the care they need. Don’t forget to ask your vendors how they vet their clinics. Many claim to work with LGBTQ+-friendly partners but can’t actually explain how they qualify this — indicating that they may not have the highest standards when it comes to designing their network.
4. Mental health support
LGBTQ+ people are often disproportionately impacted by mental health issues. These issues have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has increased depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and loneliness among all workers. The stress that LGBTQ+ people face while trying to start a family, in addition to all these existing factors, can be incredibly overwhelming.
Knowing this, we encourage HR teams to choose fertility benefits that offer integrated mental health support. At Carrot, we give our members access to on-demand chats with emotional support experts. Our care navigators also help members find mental health support that’s personalized to their needs. These resources can make an employee’s family-forming journey feel much more manageable.
5. Legal resources for LGBTQ+ families
Some family-forming options come with necessary legal components. Whether it’s navigating the contracts that come with using a GC or keeping up with the evolving regulations of every state and country, your employees will need legal support to make the right decision for their families.
The right fertility benefits partner will have the infrastructure in place to support your LGBTQ+ workforce with these complex legal requirements — whether that’s staying up-to-date on the latest laws, educating your employees about their options, or offering coverage for legal care services.
Choosing fertility benefits that are inclusive, flexible, and diverse is key to supporting your LGBTQ+ employees. Use these guidelines to find the right partner for your organization. Want to learn how Carrot’s fertility benefits can help your LGBTQ+ workforce start their unique family-forming journeys? Get in touch with us.