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July 18, 2017

Infertility Benefits: What Employers Should Know

Jami Longlais
Senior Director of Analytics
Artemis Health

Did you know that 1 in 8 couples will experience infertility? While many employers offer some sort of infertility coverage, it can be limited to a single consultation with a specialist. A recent IFEBP study found just 24% of employers with 500 or more employees offer fertility services beyond consultations as part of their benefits programs. This study also noted:

  • 19% cover IVF treatments
  • 12% offer coverage for fertility meds
  • 9% cover non-IFV treatments
  • Only 4% offer coverage for egg freezing or harvesting techniques

Fifteen U.S. states require some level of fertility benefits coverage, and Artemis Health talks to many employers who would like to cover infertility expenses for their population. Their biggest hurdle? They’re not sure how to justify the potential costs. Indeed, the expense and duration of treatment is intimidating to both employers and patients alike. Business Insider tracked one couple’s care and found:

“Finally, after a total of 32 months since they began trying, she found out she was pregnant two days before Christmas. The tally? About $18,000 out of pocket for IVF with chromosomal testing, roughly $3,000 for three artificial insemination attempts, and 60 to 70 doctor's visits' worth of copays.”

This expense is undoubtedly overwhelming for the employee, but could be manageable with help from their employer pitching in. Artemis has a few clients tracking infertility in their populations. One employer saw 71 members being treated, with a total cost to the organization of $150,057. With that number in mind, let’s look at three things employers should know about infertility benefits.

You could attract and retain valuable employees.

You’re competing for talent with other employers, and your benefits package is one way to attract the best and brightest. Some employers foster a great reputation for supporting employees through elective benefits like infertility. Most states don’t require this type of coverage, but if you do, especially in a competitive field, you’re more likely to attract and retain employees (especially women).

Women leave the workforce due to childbirth, the demands of motherhood, and a lack of support from employers. It’s a challenge for women because their most fertile years occur simultaneously to their most productive professional years. Women who might otherwise conceive without the need for fertility treatments may put off starting a family until later in life because they’re dedicated to building a successful career.

Offering a generous infertility benefit could be one lever for employers to pull. Companies could attract and retain these valuable workers and ensure they’re able to achieve both their professional and personal goals.

You should compare costs of IVF vs. NICU episodes.

Some employers shy away from covering infertility treatments due to the cost, but it may actually present an avenue for cost savings. IVF treatments are generally billed per implantation of embryos. Patients sometimes choose to implant multiple embryos with each treatment for two reasons:

  • To increase the chances of a successful pregnancy
  • To save costs compared to single implantations

This LA Times piece explores a recent study on the health risks associated with multiple births.

“Data on 233,850 infants born over a 10-year period show that twins, triplets and other “higher order multiples” are more likely to die prematurely and to require costly medical care compared to babies born as singletons.”

What this means for insurance claims is NICU stays, repeated appointments, expensive equipment costs, and higher risk for these members. Covering IVF treatments from the start could encourage employees to choose single implantations and reduce these risks and their subsequent costs.

You can create a family-friendly workplace culture.

Offering generous coverage for starting a family sends a clear message to your employees: your organization values them and their family. Candidates and employees are increasingly seeking a healthy work/life balance - as points out in this article, candidates list work/life balance as the 3rd most important factor in their job search.

Additionally, innovative employers tend to offer infertility benefits as part of a larger family-friendly strategy. Those who embrace this benefit program are more likely to offer flexible work schedules, paid parental leave (for births or adoptions), paid time off for children’s activities, flexible spending accounts for dependent care, referral and adoption services, on-site or near-site clinics, and more.

These perks not only help you attract young, talented employees, but it also helps you retain workers who may otherwise leave the workforce to balance their family life.

Infertility benefits are a hot topic for employers, and it’s up to benefit analysts and administrators to find the right way to address this need in their populations. Artemis can help you determine infertility prevalence within your population and model your estimated cost increase to offer infertility benefits. 

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