Report notes progress regarding fertility benefits

But majority of employers still do not offer this benefits, finds study

Report notes progress regarding fertility benefits

Employers offering fertility benefits to workers have shown some improvements in multiple areas, according to a recent report.

Among employers offering benefits, 22 per cent have no maximums on fertility drugs, reports volunteer organization Conceivable Dreams. And other employers have increased their lifetime limits with almost a quarter offering at least $20,000 for fertility drugs.

Both of these are crucial because “creating a family takes many forms (IVF, adoption, surrogacy, etc), and can be very costly,” says the organization. 

The average cost for one round of IVF is $20,000, and typically requires two to three rounds for a pregnancy. And surrogacy starts around $60,000. 

A previous survey of over 1,000 fertility patients in Ontario, where one round of IVF is publicly funded, found nearly half spent over $20,000 on fertility treatments, and 40% needed financial assistance, according to Conceivable Dreams.

“Two years after launching Fertility Benefits Matters, we are seeing steady progress towards more inclusive family-friendly benefits but there's still lots to do,” says Tara Wood, benefits advocate and Conceivable Dreams board member. “Our team is working to educate insurance carriers, benefit advisors and employers about the realities of family-building in Canada and the positive role each of them can play. A role that will ultimately help employers attract and retain more talent.”

Offering workers fertility benefits is a growing trend among employers, according to a previous report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP).

Still no fertility benefits yet for many

In Canada, however, the majority (53 per cent) of employers still do not offer such benefits, according to the recent survey of 928 Canadian employers, representing approximately 4.1 million private plan members in Canada. The survey was conducted by Mapol and commissioned by Organon Canada. It was approved by Conceivable Dreams.

This is the case even though infertility affects approximately one in six Canadian couples, according to the report. And fertility rates have been on a steady decline in Canada for more than a decade. The country's total fertility rate is far below the replacement rate of 2.1 needed to maintain population stability, according to the report, citing data from Statistics Canada. Only seven of 12 provinces offer some kind of public funding for family creation.

Also, of the employers (47 per cent) that do offer fertility benefits, less than two per cent cover both drugs and treatment costs such as IVF procedures, sperm, eggs and testing.

The median lifetime coverage limit for fertility drugs is now $6,000. And while the amount is increasing, it is still far below what is typically required to build a family, according to the report.

"Private and public sector collaboration is essential for successful family building in Canada," says Carolynn Dubé, executive director, Fertility Matters Canada. "Canada's employers are facing a talent crisis and have an opportunity to differentiate themselves with their values and great benefits in a tough labour market."

Consider LGBTQIA+ employees, say experts

Previously, two experts warned that “exclusive fertility benefits can exacerbate health and economic disparities”, particularly relating to LGBTQIA+ employees.

“Family-building is not a one-size-fits-all journey for anyone, and it is especially unique for the LGBTQIA+ population,” say Janet Choi, Progyny’s chief medical officer, and Cynthia McEwen, VP of people and head of DEI at Progyny, via Fortune. “Each member of this community will rely on a combination of assisted reproductive technologies and resources to have children. Without insurance, the journey can cost upwards of $200,000.”

“It is imperative that leaders eliminate the inequities in coverage to make a permanent impact on the health of their employees–and their organizations,” say Choi and McEwen, who are calling on employers to educate themselves about LGBTQIA+ culture, history, and current issues.

“Employers have the potential to make a critical difference in the lives of their LGBTQIA+ employees by providing inclusive, non-discriminatory fertility and family-building benefits. Equitable and inclusive family-building benefits will send positive ripple effects through a company’s entire culture–and, eventually, healthcare at large.”

Previously, JP Morgan Chase expanded employee benefits next month to include fertility treatment and surrogacy services for LGBTQ+ staff.

Latest stories