Updated Feb 5, 2022 - Economy & Business

Rising workplace benefit: Fertility services

Illustration of a bird and two bees all holding briefcases

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Employers are beefing up benefits packages to lure workers in a tight labor market, and many are adding pricey fertility benefits — such as in-vitro fertilization and egg freezing — to their offerings.

Why it matters: Benefits around fertility and family-building have long been overlooked by employer health care plans, but that's rapidly changing.

  • "You see couples today that are living child-free, and a lot of times that's their decision, but a lot of times it's not," says Gina Bartasi, founder and CEO of the fertility clinic Kindbody.
  • Employers can play a vital role in helping people find alternative options to grow their families, she says.

What's happening: "Earlier in my career, it was so rare for companies to offer this," says Alice Vichaita, head of global benefits at Pinterest, which covers fertility services for its global workforce. "More and more companies are becoming aware that this is really an inadequacy in our health care system."

  • In the past, many companies have avoided offering fertility benefits due to concerns about the cost, according to a Mercer report. But the rise in the number of fertility clinics — and growing demand for their services — is driving down the price, Bartasi says.
  • 97% of employers who provide this coverage say it has not resulted in a significant increase in medical plan costs, per a Mercer survey.

By the numbers: 11% of U.S. employers with 500 employees or more covered egg freezing in 2020, compared with just 5% in 2015, according to the Mercer study. When looking just at firms with 20,000 employees or more, the 2020 share is 19%.

  • Also as of 2020, 58% of employers with 500 or more workers covered evaluations by reproductive doctors and 27% covered IVF.

Fertility services are also key from a diversity, equity and inclusion perspective, says Tanner Brunsdale, senior manager of benefits and mobility at Lyft, which offers these benefits.

  • Lyft's benefits have helped employees from all walks of life — including LGBTQ+ couples and single parents — become parents through IVF, sperm and egg donation and other services, he says.

What to watch: Look for fertility services to become a new standard benefit at work.

  • "Within the last five years, this has really taken off," says Brunsdale. "It's kind of table-stakes benefits at this point, especially at a tech company where you’re trying to attract strong talent."

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Jan. 31.

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