Accolade

Accolade is a personalized healthcare platform with a mission to help people live their healthiest lives. They provide care delivery, navigation, and advocacy services to support their customers' and members’ overall health. We spoke with Mary Lasky, Director of Benefits at Accolade, about why adding inclusive fertility benefits was important and how cost savings factored into their search process.

How Accolade lowered healthcare costs with fertility benefits

As a trusted, personalized healthcare platform, Accolade thoroughly vets all partners in their ecosystem to ensure customers can easily find high-quality benefits offerings for their employees. When considering options for their own team, they take a similar approach and search for clinically managed and well-vetted solutions that lead to better health outcomes.

“We were foreseeing a general trend where many organizations have started to introduce more inclusive benefits, and we want to make sure that we're taking care of all of our employees and offering diverse benefits, too,” said Mary Lasky, Director of Benefits at Accolade.

The Accolade team decided fertility support was the next benefit they needed to explore to ensure their employees were cared for physically, emotionally, and financially. After a $1.5 million pregnancy and childbirth claim, they also hoped the right benefit could help employees access safe care that would reduce healthcare costs in the long run. Focused on diversity and affordability, the team began their search for a comprehensive fertility healthcare offering. 

The challenge: Finding a benefit that would provide a return on their investment

A guiding value at Accolade is human connection, so care navigation was an essential component for any potential benefit. While the team knew that some birth complications and costs are unavoidable, they wondered whether having more supportive resources around fertility and pregnancy could make a difference. They wanted to see how expert support and educational resources could guide employees to the right options while avoiding unnecessary, invasive, or costly journeys when medically appropriate. 

“I'm coming at it from the lens of what will empower, engage, and attract our employees, but we also want to make sure that we're driving home potential cost impact with our finance team,” said Lasky.

“I'm coming at fertility benefits from the lens of what will empower, engage, and attract our employees, but we also want to make sure that we're driving home potential cost impact with our finance team."

The deciding factor: Guiding employees to safe options

The team knew that decreasing the chances of multiple births from fertility treatment was one of the most impactful ways to manage costs. On average, daily NICU costs exceed $3,500 per infant, so stays can easily top $1 million.

They heard some fertility benefit providers, like Carrot, included care navigation and clinical guidance around the importance of single embryo transfers (SET), the single most predictive indicator of a singleton IVF pregnancy and subsequent successful birth. 

Along with managing costs, employee health was also important to the Accolade team. Research shows that SET helps reduce the risk of low birth weight, NICU admissions, and hospital lengths of stay while maintaining success rates. At 97%, Carrot’s SET rate is 26% higher than the national average. The team saw this policy as an important preventive measure and knew it would set their employees up to make safe, cost-effective decisions regarding their IVF journeys.

The fact that Carrot provides robust care navigation and resources for all journeys, not just IVF, also caught their eye. They were learning that regardless of what fertility healthcare or family-forming journey employees pursued, Carrot’s team would help them find expert resources and high-quality care. “The navigation is probably the most important offering because what you're doing is making sure that our employees can get the best services by the best in their field,” said Lasky.

Choosing Carrot

The Accolade team believes everyone deserves exceptional care. Their ecosystem of partners consists of data-driven, value-based healthcare options to simplify benefits selection for employers. Accolade selected Carrot because their vetting process revealed that Carrot delivers high-quality, comprehensive care that promotes better health outcomes for members. 

With their own internal benefits offerings, the Accolade team could research options outside their existing network. Still, the results of their vetting process spoke for themselves. “I was given the evaluation that was done for Carrot related to the other point solutions that were out there in the market at that time,” said Lasky. “Carrot was above and beyond the others in various ways.”

They were also impressed with how Carrot’s vetting process matched the rigor of their own. Globally, Carrot has a network of 3,800+ clinics and 4,200+ agencies and attorneys, and all are vetted for medical standards based on their region and service. For example, U.S. fertility clinics must have a reproductive endocrinologist on staff and report to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), among other standards.

The Accolade team also valued that Carrot members could pursue diverse journeys, from fertility preservation to adoption, to gestational surrogacy. “I think it is super important to be able to ensure that we're covering that gamut of all the employees we have in our organization, regardless of how they choose to start their family,” said Lasky.

With a robust SET program, diverse fertility and family-forming paths, exceptional clinical standards, and extensive support for all members, Carrot — once again — proved to fit exactly what they were looking for.

Results

So far, the benefit has been well received. Many employees have taken advantage of all aspects of the offering, including Accolade's educational resources. Every quarter, the team picks a theme, distributes content on it, and shares how their existing benefits support that theme. For example, one quarter focused on mental health.

“One of the things that we talked about was helping people understand what their family-forming journey may look like and what impact it could have on their emotional well-being,” Lasky said.

Accolade’s campaign highlighted that Carrot offers virtual chats with mental health experts specializing in fertility and family forming to help individuals navigate the emotional challenges they may face throughout their journeys. 

Accolade employees are also enthusiastically signing up to use the benefit. “We already have had 7% of our eligible population registered in six months,” said Lasky. Those numbers have steadily increased, and feedback has only continued to be positive.

  • Since this interview, almost 9% of eligible employees have registered for the benefit.
  • About 4.6% of eligible employees have created Carrot Plans, directly taking the next step in their family-forming journey by accessing their personalized plan developed by Carrot Experts that guides members every step of the way. 
  • The most common journeys have been IVF, intrauterine insemination (IUI), and preservation, which may include egg or sperm freezing.

Overall, what still jumps out the most to Lasky is how easy the implementation process was for such a beneficial resource. “I would go back and pick Carrot all over,” she said.

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