It’s the time of year again — time to make tough calls on where to focus your benefits budget dollars for 2021. Finding a balance between what your workforce wants, managing budgets, and improving your overall benefits offering is no easy task. To help with these decisions, we put together some of the latest data and information about fertility and family-forming benefits.
The main takeaway? Fertility benefits are no longer a nice-to-have — they’re a must-have benefit for companies looking to offer inclusive support for their employees. Here are a few reasons why companies are prioritizing fertility benefits in 2021 — for both the good of the company and their employees.
Growing demand for fertility benefits
Leading companies across industries, including Spotify, Facebook, Bank of America, Starbucks, Clif Bar, and Masterclass, have added or expanded fertility benefits in recent years. And the trend is growing — a 2020 Piper Sandler report suggested that the adoption of fertility benefits will follow the general trend of mental health benefits, which grew from being offered at 34% of companies in 2014 to 75% in 2018.
This is true even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the rising demand, many fertility clinics, adoption agencies, and gestational carrier (commonly known as surrogacy) agencies have quickly adapted and moved many of their services online, offering virtual consultations and check-ins. This has also become a critical component where employer-sponsored fertility coverage is concerned — a Business Group on Health study showed that 20 out of every 100 large companies now provide virtual fertility benefits and, of those that do not have benefits already, an additional 28% plan to add them in 2021. The study reiterates what many businesses and employees already know: the demand for fertility care will continue to grow, and businesses must respond.
A common (and growing) diagnosis: infertility
Infertility is becoming an increasingly common reality for many households. In the last 25 years, the number of people diagnosed with infertility has grown by 20%. One in 8 heterosexual couples are impacted by infertility — about 6.7 million people — are affected in the U.S. alone. And while infertility is a diagnosed medical condition, common misconceptions have led to many not receiving the care they need. For example, many assume that infertility is primarily a female concern; however, infertility is something all genders and all sexes. In fact, for heterosexual couples that struggle with infertility, researchers have found it’s an even split between partners.
Another common misconception? For people with ovaries diagnosed with infertility, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is the only treatment option. In reality, though, only 1 in 3 people who seek infertility services require treatment such as IVF. That’s a major reason why Carrot offers support for early, at-home interventions like nutrition counseling and access to the Ava bracelet in addition to expert-guided IVF journeys.
Fertility benefits support everyone, no matter their age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or geography. These benefits also encourage people to seek care navigation and clinical support, ultimately providing better care that leads to healthier outcomes.
Inclusive support for all employees
In the wake of 2020, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts have been at center stage for employers. A key part of this is inclusive benefits. A fertility benefit impacts many employees, including LGBTQ+ individuals and couples. One survey found that more than 6 out of every 10 LGBTQ+ couples have said they are interested in starting families, but insurance often does not cover the costs. Similarly, most insurance companies define infertility as a cisgender woman trying to get pregnant for over a year, which, of course, doesn’t include many same-sex couples, transgender couples or individuals, or single parents by choice, forcing them to pay out of pocket.
Companies have begun to recognize the impact of such benefits, with 71% of companies looking into offering fertility benefits to support DEI objectives. In fact, according to the same Piper Sandler study, 58% of benefit managers said that they would view it as discriminatory not to offer fertility benefits by 2025. Implementing fertility benefits is growing increasingly crucial for an inclusive workplace.
Upstream & downstream healthcare cost savings for employers
David Kaplan, a leader of the Mercer Health Innovation, explains the downstream health savings of fertility benefits, noting, "The interest is not only being driven by talent and retention-related issues but also by the high cost for employers who, whether they offer infertility benefits or not, are still incurring much of the NICU and associated high-risk maternity-related expenses." Carrot works with our customers to reduce high-risk maternity-related expenses while supporting employees in a number of ways, including our single embryo transfer (eSET) education program.
In addition to downstream costs, Carrot specifically can help companies save on upstream costs. Through our Carrot at Home program, we offer care guidance and support for employees’ journeys before ever setting foot in a clinic. With employees who do not have time on their side, we can get started right away (in a COVID-19 safe way) with telehealth support.
Financial & emotional support for employees
Fertility treatments can be incredibly expensive for families, taking a toll on people financially and emotionally. The average price of fertility treatment can vary depending on journey type but is often within the range of $5,000-75,000. The economic burden alone can be daunting for anyone. But it’s more than just that — fertility treatments are taxing from a time aspect as well, sometimes taking more than 15 days over an 18 month period. Furthermore, employees face emotional burdens, in which fertility benefits can help guide employees through. Providing fertility benefits can support the burden of these financial and emotional costs for employees significantly.
The bottom line is that fertility benefits should be a top priority for 2021. Fertility benefits are needed to sufficiently support the evolving workforce and their health. Fertility benefits support employees emotionally and financially, are a DEI benefit, and all while still save money for companies.