There’s encouraging news for employees who may be facing the challenges of infertility: more employers – beyond tech companies – are now offering employee benefits that include coverage for fertility diagnostic tests and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Other industry sectors also covering treatment for this disease include Finance and Investment Banking, Consumer Products and Retail, Fashion, Luxury and Apparel, Media, Consulting and Audit, and Pharmaceuticals.
A just released report from FertilityIQ shows the improved landscape of employers offering a fertility benefit – from new entrants, including non-profit organizations, to major enhancements of benefits previously offered including coverage for up to 4 IVF cycles and no dollar limits. In Tech Companies Get High Marks for Covering Infertility Treatments, the New York Times describes the wide variation of coverage found in the new report including requirements for diagnosis, pre-authorization and dollar limits. Further, interviews with tech companies reveal the clear competition among tech firms to offer very generous fertility benefits. For a list of the 250 companies with the most generous IVF coverage in 2017-2018, click here.
With a strong economy, employees often have more choice about where to work and employers who want to attract and keep the best employees need to offer up-to-date, in demand benefits. Those employers offering fertility benefits often reap the benefit of strong employee loyalty which drives meaningful improvements in employee retention, ultimately helping to reduce employer costs. Interviews with employees also suggest enhanced productivity as access to needed treatment means less worry about a major issue, improving their ability to focus on work. The bottom line is a likely return on investment for employers that provide coverage for infertility care.
Employees do have strong, positive feelings when their employers offer coverage for infertility treatment, according to Barbara Collura, President and CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association who presented survey findings at the recent American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) annual conference. RESOLVE partnered with ARC Fertility and EMD Serono to survey 702 employees who had at least one egg retrieval. Of those surveyed, 57% had health insurance covering some diagnostic and/or infertility treatment.
The survey found that employees have a higher rate of satisfaction with their employer if fertility benefits are offered compared to employers who do not offer a benefit:
· 4 times more believe their employer is meeting the needs of today’s families
· 2.5 times more believe their employer listens to their needs
· 1.5 times more believe their employer cares about their well-being
Comments from survey respondents also revealed stark differences in how employees felt about their employers based on whether or not they offered a fertility benefit. One woman stated that because her employer offered such coverage “I’m loyal – it’s the reason I stay.” Those employers who did not offer coverage earned negative comments from employees including: “behind the times in health coverage,” “makes me feel undervalued,” “discriminated against this disease,” and “must be a better place to work, I’m looking for a better job with better benefits, better understanding.”
Whether an employer offers coverage for fertility treatment also has enormous financial implications for those who seek IVF treatment. FertilityIQ describes the current trend of infertility coverage as one of “haves” vs. “have nots” with 80% of all of today’s patients either having all or none of their IVF care paid for by their employers, with most being in the “have not” category. Given the average U.S. household annually earns $51,000 in pre-tax income and the cost of IVF treatment – with multiple cycles – averages approximately $23,000 (including medication and consultation), fertility coverage makes a real and life-changing difference for those who need treatment but could not otherwise afford it.
There is help available for employees who want to talk to their employer about adding a fertility benefit. The RESOLVE Coverage at Work Initiative includes a template letter to use with a company’s HR Department or benefits manager. Among other things, the letter cites studies showing the actual minimal costs related to adding coverage, and the improved health outcomes which also lower employer expenses. You can obtain a copy of the template “Insurance Coverage Request Letter” to download and customize by clicking here. In recognition of fertility benefits currently offered, RESOLVE will honor Starbucks with a Hope Award for access during the organization’s Night of Hope Gala on December 4.
With a healthy economy and a desire for healthy babies, employees facing infertility have every reason to expect that employers can and should offer a fertility benefit. Surveys and studies show it makes companies more competitive, increases their ability to attract and retain the best employees, enhances employee morale and productivity, and improves health outcomes. And besides, does anyone ever get tired of looking at baby pictures whether from family, neighbors or colleagues?