Skip to Main Content Back to Top Let's Talk
Home Blog How employers are leveraging fertility benefits to win the talent war

How employers are leveraging fertility benefits to win the talent war

Doctor and woman patient is talking in gynecological office during visit at gynecology office. Consultation of gynecologist
Higginbotham H logo

As companies look for new employee benefits strategies, fertility benefits are emerging as an attractive option. By offering fertility benefits, employers may be able to attract and retain top talent in a tight labor market. However, these benefits could add to an employer’s health care costs, and not all plan options are as inclusive as they first appear. Before adding fertility benefits, it’s important to consider the pros, cons and alternative options.

What’s included in fertility and family benefits?

“Fertility benefits” is an umbrella term that can refer to a variety of benefit options that are designed to help workers start a family. These benefits may include the following:

  • Fertility Testing
  • Fertility Counseling
  • Egg, Sperm or Embryo Freezing
  • Fertility Medication
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
  • Surrogacy
  • Other Fertility Treatment Methods

Some employers may cover all or most of these benefits, while others may only cover one or two. In addition to covering fertility drugs and treatments, employers may offer benefits to help cover the cost of adoption. Paid family leave benefits can also help workers who are starting a new family, regardless of whether they use fertility or adoption benefits.

Cropped shot of an unrecognizable woman taking a pregnancy test at home

Benefits for Fertility Services Are Gaining Steam

Employer-sponsored fertility coverage used to be rare, but it has become much more common in recent years.

According to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), 30 percent of employers offered fertility benefits in 2020, and this figure increased to 40 percent in 2022. Offer rates vary by the type of benefit: in 2022, 28 percent of employers covered fertility medications, 30 percent covered in vitro fertilization treatments, 16 percent covered genetic testing to determine infertility issues and 14 percent covered egg harvesting and freezing services.

IFEBP Vice President of Content Julie Stitch notes that fertility benefits can also help foster a more inclusive workplace if an employer offers these benefits to single prospective parents and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Indeed, many employees can benefit from fertility benefits. Statistics show that infertility is a common problem impacting many working-aged individuals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 26 percent of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 with no prior births experience difficulty becoming pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.

Benefits for Fertility Treatment Can Influence Job Seekers

While fertility issues are common, fertility treatments can be prohibitively expensive. According to Investopedia, a single IVF cycle tends to cost $15,000 to $30,000, with the exact price varying from individual to individual. And if the first attempt is not successful, additional cycles will add to this cost.

Many people are desperate to start a family, but traditional health insurance often doesn’t cover fertility services, which can be extremely expensive when paid for out of pocket. As a result, employer-sponsored fertility benefits can be a huge draw to prospective employees.

An employee who is currently undergoing fertility treatments that are paid for, either in whole or in part, by their employee benefits package will be unlikely to switch jobs and begin working for an employer who does not provide fertility benefits.

Likewise, job seekers who are interested in fertility treatments may be swayed by fertility benefits. Given the high cost of fertility treatments, it’s easy to see how fertility benefits could play a significant role in a worker’s decision to accept a job or to stay in their position, making them a powerful tool in a company’s recruitment and retention strategies.

Furthermore, although fertility benefits have become increasingly common in recent years, many companies still do not offer these benefits, and those that do may offer very limited coverage. This can make fertility benefits a strong differentiator for potential hires, with employers that offer robust fertility benefits standing out from their competitors in the fight for top talent.

But Not All Job Seekers Are Interested

For employees who are trying to start a family, fertility benefits can be extremely attractive. However, workers who aren’t trying to start a family or who don’t need fertility treatments to do so likely won’t care about these benefits.

If employers are pouring funds into fertility benefits, this may lead to concerns over whether the company’s resources are being used effectively. Although many proponents of fertility benefits argue that it can be a worthwhile investment, there may be other ways for employers to help their employees pay for fertility treatments. For example, more flexible health care options, such as HSAs, HRAs or FSAs, are more likely to appeal to all employees, regardless of their interest in fertility treatments.

Young Asian pregnant woman lying on sofa at home, looking at the ultrasound scan photo of her baby. Mother-to-be. Expecting a new life concept

And Not All Fertility Benefits Are Inclusive

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are often identified as a reason to offer fertility benefits. While heterosexual couples may utilize fertility benefits, these benefits can also appeal to LGBTQ+ individuals who may not be able to conceive without medical intervention. When looked at this way, fertility benefits can seem like a way to make employee benefit packages more inclusive.

However, Fortune warns that fertility benefits are not always as inclusive as they first appear. To qualify for coverage, individuals may have to meet the policy’s definition of infertility, which often involves having unprotected heterosexual sex for six to 12 months without conception. Because of this potentially strict definition of infertility, same-sex couples and single individuals who want a family may be barred from coverage.

Should your company offer fertility benefits?

As fertility benefits become more common, many employers are reassessing their offerings to determine if they’re keeping up with employee expectations. If you’re thinking about adding fertility benefits to your employee benefits package, consider the following questions:

  • What is your budget? As with any benefit offering, it’s important to consider the cost of investment versus the expected return. Fertility treatments are expensive, so robust coverage could add to your overall costs at a time when many employers are already dealing with rising healthcare costs. However, if comprehensive fertility coverage is price-prohibitive, employers could consider adding benefits that partially pay for treatments.
  • What are your goals? An employee benefits package that includes fertility benefits may help you reach your retention, recruitment and employee engagement goals, but only if your benefits strategy aligns with your goals. For example, if you want to alter your benefits program in order to appeal to a more diverse group of employees, you need to choose fertility benefits that are inclusive since policies that exclude LGBTQ+ couples likely won’t help meet this goal.
  • Could other benefit options help you reach your goals more effectively? Fertility benefits are popular right now – and for good reason. These benefits are in high demand and employers that offer them can stand out from the crowd. However, this does not necessarily mean that adding fertility benefits is the best option for every employer. For example, depending on the needs of your workforce, you might find that adding a flexible health care benefit is more effective in meeting your organizational goals.

A competitive employee benefits package is a critical part of attracting, retaining and engaging top talent and, for some employers, fertility benefits may be a good fit. Higginbotham can help assess your employee benefit needs and create benefits packages that consider both your company’s goals and budget. Learn more about our employee benefits services and get in touch with one of our benefits specialists today.

Not sure where to start? Talk to someone who wants to listen.

A great plan starts with a conversation. Let’s talk about what you need.

Let’s Talk

Request a Quote

Woman looking sideways to window in design office
Higginbotham H logo