Fertility benefits help cover costs of $15,000 to $30,000 per in vitro fertilization cycle, and more for adoption or surrogacy. Equally important are the savings the employer realizes, as the managed benefit increases the intended parents’ health and productivity through behavioral counseling, and provides professional guidance that frees up hours employees otherwise spend researching fertility options.
Similarly, some women may consider egg-freezing to reduce the risk of deferring the start of their family during the early years of their career. Covering egg-freezing costs — typically about $8,000 to $10,000, plus medication and storage — is far less expensive than losing a rising star executive to a competitor that offers a fertility benefit.
The Case for Managing Fertility Benefits
In an unmanaged fertility benefit, employees essentially receive a pool of money to use as they see fit. Employees navigate their own path through a complicated fertility environment and make their own spending decisions. Costs are then reimbursed up to a specified per-event or lifetime limit. Unmanaged plans cost companies more because they offer employees no guidance and put no guardrails around spending.
A far better option is the surprisingly cost-effective managed benefit. By fully integrating financial support with clinical oversight, education and counseling, a managed benefit can reduce spending for companies, and provide better support and outcomes for employees. The guidance from clinical experts in managed benefits increases the likelihood of healthy, full-term singleton babies. This reduces C-sections, preterm births and neonatal intensive care unit expenses, which research shows can cost a company between $64,000 and $80,000 per employee.
Employees with an unmanaged benefit get no professional assistance navigating their family-building choices. Therefore, they more frequently choose treatments that raise the likelihood of twins, triplets or other multiple gestations. This often leads to NICU admissions and long-term health care costs for developmental problems, asthma or cerebral palsy. This is not only a bad outcome for the parents but also very costly to the employer, whose group health policy will be responsible for the increased utilization.
The bottom line: A managed benefit provides higher success rates with reduced medical costs on several fronts. Coupled with the value-add of improved recruitment, retention and productivity, a managed benefit might even pay for itself.
Surveys show that family-building benefits are most popular among employees in their 20s and 30s, a group that forms an outsized share of the workforce for financial sector employers. To address the needs of these rising stars and junior partners, and attract and retain this generation of talent, no benefit is more critical than a robust managed fertility program.
Dr. Roger Shedlin, J.D., is the president, CEO and founder of WINFertility, a global fertility benefits management company.