How Fertility Became A Workplace Perk
In 2019, Caitlin, a 35-year-old living in New York City, was looking for a new job. Her contract as a content specialist was coming to an end, and Caitlin, who was a few months into IVF treatment, had a very specific idea about what she was looking for in her next role.
I Googled companies with the best fertility treatments and applied to roles at those companies, she says. I applied to the companies with the best fertility and family benefits, and those companies only. Any position offering less than what I considered to be top-tier coverage fell out of contention.
Caitlin, whos using one name for professional reasons, ended up interviewing at an accounting firm that would cover 100% of the cost of her treatments. The role was something of a career shift for her, but she had no doubt about accepting the job. My mom thinks it was a miracle, she says. I started treatments shortly after I started my new job.
The company Caitlin joined is one of many now offering fertility-related benefits in a bid to attract new recruits. As companies struggle to find enough workers, a growing number of businesses are offering innovative perks to attract and retain staff, especially in the US. The need to remain competitive has become particularly crucial at a time when a reported 41% of staff across the globe are considering quitting or changing their profession.
More than just a Covid-related craze
Lawsuit Claims Policy Requiring Lgbtq Couples To Pay Out
By John Rileyon September 15, 2021
Health insurance giant Aetna, Inc. is being sued for allegedly discriminating against same-sex and LGBTQ couples by requiring them to pay more out of pocket for fertility treatments.
In a proposed class-action lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Emma Goidel, a 31-year-old Manhattan resident who received health insurance through her spouses insurance plan as a Columbia University student, alleges that Aetnas policy unfairly discriminates against same-sex spouses or LGBTQ couples seeking to conceive.
Aetnas plan for Columbia University students provides coverage for fertility treatments, including intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization , without any out-of-pocket costs, to individuals who say they have not been able to conceive after having frequent, unprotected heterosexual sexual intercourse for 12 months, or, in cases where the female partner is 35 years of age or older, for 6 months.
However, the policy requires individuals who cannot conceive through intercourse due to their sexual orientation or gender identity to pay out-of-pocket costs for 12 cycles of IUI before they can receive coverage for fertility treatments under the plan reports Reuters.
Goidel says she chose IUI to get pregnant despite previous failures, in part, because of the higher cost of IVF.
Insurance For Fertility Treatments
Getting insurance plans to cover fertility treatments has been a major goal of fertility advocates worldwide. Coverage varies depending on where you live, your employer, your local laws, and the insurance plan you chooseand can afford. The majority of Americans do not have coverage for the more expensive fertility treatments, like IVF. Some plans don’t even cover basic fertility testing.
Now, some high-profile companies are offering or are about to offer egg freezing benefits as an added insurance perk to draw in top talent. Below, we delve into the pros and cons of this emerging medical technology as an insurance benefit.
Women who want children may miss their fertility window
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% Growth Amongst Large Employers
The number of large companies and employers that newly-introduced or enhanced their family-building benefit grew 8% year-over-year and is now approaching 800 large organizations globally. New entrants, or those who raised their benefit, continued to hail from multiple verticals including retail, consumer packaged goods, industrial production, and healthcare services.
A Growing Workplace Trend
Fertility benefits as a workplace benefit gained traction in the US around 2014, when both Apple and Facebook said they would pay up to $20,000 to cover the cost of egg freezing for their staff. That same year, Bloomberg Businessweek, wondered: Will Freezing Your Eggs Free Your Career? Other tech companies including followed suit.
Most mid-size and large US companies cover some form of treatment for workers dealing with infertility, according to a 2021 survey of 459 US employers conducted by the consulting firm Mercer. In 2020, 58% of companies with 500 employees or more covered evaluations by a reproductive endocrinologist or infertility specialist in their health plans, while 73% of so-called jumbo employers did. Drug therapies to treat infertility are also a common benefit, with over half of jumbo employers covering these.
More employers have also started to cover IVF in the past five years. Today, 42% of jumbo employers offer IVF coverage, a six percentage point increase from 2015, while 27% of employers with 500 or more workers offer this service, and 14% of smaller employers do.
Egg freezing benefits are on the rise, too: 19% of jumbo employers offered coverage in 2020, an increase of 13 percentage points from 2015.
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How Much Does It Cost To Freeze Eggs
The average price to freeze your eggs is around $5,000 in the United States. However, this price can vary depending on the location, clinic, and procedure used. In some cases, if you are using your own eggs, the process can be less expensive. However, if you use donor eggs, the cost will be significantly higher.
In the United Kingdom, there is no standard policy regarding whether or not insurance providers cover egg freezing. However, there are a number of private clinics that offer the procedure, and most of these clinics will work with patients to find a payment plan that suits them.
Four: Cryopreservation In The Laboratory
Eggs that are not fertilized are carefully frozen using cryopreservation technology. Eggs to be fertilized before storage are placed with sperm to create embryos. Although eggs are frozen the day they are removed from the body, embryos are frozen either the day after egg retrievalafter fertilization has been documentedor five to seven days after the egg harvest procedure, when the embryo has reached the blastocyst stage. If preimplantation genetic screening or diagnosis is to be performed, it is done after the embryo has formed into a blastocyst.
PGS and PGD cannot be performed on unfertilized eggs but may be performed later, after the egg is thawed and combined with sperm to create an embryo. Any stored eggs or embryos remain on-site at the Fertility Center.
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How To Choose The Best Fertility Insurance
When choosing a fertility insurance provider, consider the following:
- Treatments offered: Some health insurance companies only offer fertility coverage in the states where its required by law, while others offer coverage in all states. Be sure to ask your insurer what treatments are covered before purchasing a policy.
- Providers in-network: You want to be able to see providers near you who have a good track record around fertility care. Make sure to ask an insurer what providers are in your area before purchasing coverage.
- Rounds covered: Fertility treatments dont always work the first time. Make sure to ask your provider how many rounds of treatment they cover before signing up for a plan.
- Co-pays, limits, and deductibles: Fertility treatments are expensive. Before you decide whether to purchase fertility insurance, figure out how much you would be paying out-of-pocket for treatments through that plan.
Why Employers See Fertility As A Good Investment
In a tight labor market with nearly 11 million job openings as of December, fertility benefits can be a selling point for candidates choosing between jobs, says Purciello. A 2019 survey from Glamour and the fertility treatment company Modern Fertility found 59% of women would choose an employer that covered services like IVF over one that didnt.
Theres also an argument that fertility options attract a more diverse workforce. When tech firms in Silicon Valley started adding egg freezing to their health plans five years ago, it was often framed as a way to retain female staff in an industry dominated by men. Purciello says employers focus has widened today to provide a path to parenthood regardless of workers gender or sexual orientation. Sun says surrogacy, used by some LGBTQ couples seeking to have children, is one of the fastest-growing claims filed by employers in Carrots network. Men may also make use of fertility benefits, particularly if their female partners are included in their health plans.
Seismic, a sales software company based in San Diego, decided to add fertility services to its healthcare plan to differentiate itself in the marketplace as an employer of choice, said the chief people officer, Linda Ho.
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More Companies Offer Fertility Benefits Its Only The Beginning
Employer support for staff who wish to freeze their eggs has great potentialbut broader support for parents still lags behind.
Nyasha Foy was at an alumni networking event in New York in 2016 when an older sorority sister asked if she was planning to freeze her eggs. I was taken aback, but then I felt a sense of comfort, explains Foy. She was asking me what should be a standard question among women. Flash forward a few years to 2019, when Foy found herself visiting that same friends apartment every night for two weeks, a cool bag of meds in tow. Foy has a fear of needles, so the woman helped administer hormonal injections.
These stimulated her ovaries to produce multiple eggs, which were then surgically removed and frozen in a lab. The process is physically demanding, and could trigger a medley of PMS-like symptoms. Patients can require a week of rest and recovery afterward. Typically, this would have cost the 34-year-old New Yorker a minimum of $9,000, but she did not pay a dime. Instead, it was covered by her company, Complex Networks.
Foy is one of thousands of employees whose company has footed the bill for egg retrieval, freezing, and storage. Facebook first began offering this option to staff in 2014, after COO Sheryl Sandberg said she heard of a female employee with cancer who couldnt afford to pay for her egg freezingso the company stepped in. Soon after, other Silicon Valley tech firms like Google and Apple followed suit.
Some Of The Pros Include:
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Know Whats Covered And Whats Not
Egg freezing is expensive and involves ongoing costs, including the medications, monitoring, retrieval, and yearly storage fees. When/if youre ready to use your eggs, youll need to pay for thawing, fertilization, the embryo transfer, and possibly more medications. Find out what your company will cover and what they wont. It may not be totally covered.
Medical Necessity Criteria For Oocyte Cryopreservation
Cryopreservation of mature oocytes may be considered medically necessary for women and adolescent girls prior to commencing treatment that is likely to cause infertility . Such treatments that may result in iatrogenic infertility include, but are not necessarily limited to:
Reminder: Cryopreservation of reproductive tissue, including sperm and oocytes, may not be covered under standard medical benefits or under infertility benefits. Always check the relevant terms and conditions of the patients benefit plan. Cryopreservation services may also be governed by state mandates.
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Growing Demand For Treatment
The trend comes at a time when more people are seeking fertility treatments, both for medical and non-medical reasons.
Meantime, the number of women choosing to freeze their eggs is rising up 1,000% in the U.S. between 2009 and 2016, according to some estimates and the number of individuals, heterosexual and same-sex couples seeking non-traditional routes to parenthood is growing further still.
The cost of such treatments remains unfeasibly high for many, however. The typical price for one egg freezing cycle in the U.S. is $11,000, with additional charges including hormone medication and storage . IVF treatment can cost closer to $24,000.
For 34-year-old Aja Harbert, a single, California-based HR director, the price of such procedures made freezing her eggs “financially unobtainable.”
I could sense the looming crossroad that many professional women face the pressurized decision of wanting to advance in their career while starting a family.Aja HarbertHR director, B Capital
That was until 2020, when her employer introduced a $25,000-lifetime benefit for gestation and surrogacy services, which she said gave her the freedom to pursue her career without sacrificing her parenting prospects.
“The concept of being able to delay that decision by freezing my eggs was something that suited my personal plan well,” she added.
Does Health Insurance Cover The Costs
In 16 states, there are laws requiring insurance companies to cover or offer coverage for fertility treatment. Those states are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia. If you live in one of these states, insurance could help pay for coverage however, you will still have deductibles and out of pocket costs, depending on your plan.
If you dont live in one of these states, your insurance could still pay for some costs of care, such as bloodwork or ultrasounds. It is wise to review the details of your health insurance policy, so you know what to expect.
There are also some companies5, several in the technology industry, that cover the costs of fertility treatments and egg freezing. These benefits are offered as a means of attracting and maintaining top female talent.
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A Companys Perks Need To Be Inclusive And Cover Everyone Not Exclusive And Meeting The Needs Of A Select Few Amy Spurling
Looking forward, Ataya also stresses the importance of using data to understand employee needs, and to create more flexible systems for equitable benefits. I believe employers are doubling down on benefits programmes that support their employees holistically to foster a strong company culture, boost productivity and mitigate costs, she says. Fertility and family-forming benefits accomplish all of that, while also providing employees with a benefit they truly value and that will positively impact their lives for years to come.
Spurling is less convinced, suggesting that rather than seeing a big push towards fertility-focused benefits we may be about to notice more customisable systems emerge that support all kinds of family. We have seen a huge trend towards companies offering stipends, giving their employees the choice to use it towards fertility treatments, childcare or eldercare, she says. Our world has moved towards personalisation, and HR is rapidly coming round to the idea that a companys perks need to be inclusive and cover everyone, not exclusive and meeting the needs of a select few.
A Boost For Diversity Equity And Inclusion
Financial costs aside, often grueling treatment processes can take their toll professionally as well as emotionally and physically requiring additional support from employers.
For Harbert, her experience was “a three-month journey of dozens of doctor’s appointments, daily self-injected hormones, and restricted diets, all while working full-time.”
Dervilla Lannon, a 40-year-old vice-president of people at Silicon Valley-based security start-up Verkada, said she’s apprehensive about starting her first egg freezing cycle this month, having seen her friend undergo the same process. However, having a supportive boss was made the decision much easier, she said.
“It is hugely encouraging for a start-up of less than six years to offer this benefit,” said Lannon, who advocated for a one-time $10,000 fertility treatment allowance for all staff.
Studies suggest the pay-off of such benefits is there for employers, too, with staff who take advantage of them more likely to return to work after parental leave and remain in the job long term.
According to the FertilityIQ’s 2019-2020 Family-Building Workplace Index, almost two-thirds of employees who received fertility coverage from an employer said they felt more loyal and committed to the company.
The same study found that 88% of women who had IVF treatment fully paid for by their employer chose to return to that employer after maternity leave, compared to around 50% of the regular population without fertility benefits.
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Where Should A Woman Freeze Her Eggs
Chenette says the best place to go is wherever theres an expert team with strong experience and success in both egg freezing and pregnancies.
“A board-certified reproductive endocrinologist should be providing your care, and a PhD embryologist with 10 or more years of experience in the lab should be managing the eggs,” Chenette said. “A clinic should have excellent education resources and a well organized patient intake and care system.”
Is Egg Freezing Covered By Insurance
By: Smiljanic Stasha
First, it’s important to understand what egg freezing is. Egg freezing is when a woman’s eggs are extracted and frozen for later use. This can be done for various reasons, such as preserving fertility for women undergoing cancer treatment or for those who want to delay starting a family. Is egg freezing covered by insurance? It can be described with – it depends. Remember to check the list of best health insurance providers to get more detailed info if they offer this type of procedure.
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