How the fertility benefits industry has evolved, and what you can do as an employer to provide the best offerings for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.

Fertility benefits, despite their recent prominence, haven’t been around for very long. Yet, they’ve evolved drastically from year to year—not only in terms of coverage, but also in terms of cost, the care experience, and consumer expectations. 

Furthermore, it’s clear that the industry will continue to change as the demand for family-building benefits grows. However, this puts employers in a challenging spot. How do you ensure that the offerings you invest in today will be relevant, one, five, and even ten years down the road? 

This is a question we’re going to take a deep dive on in this blog post. We’ll provide a snapshot of how fertility and family-building benefits have evolved and, based on the information we have, project how they might change in the future. 

The past: 2010 to 2016

In the mid-2000s, fertility treatments were just starting to show up on people’s radars. However, these services were largely inaccessible by the general population and had yet to be offered by employers. Let’s explore what consumer expectations, cost, and coverage looked like back then. 

Cost and coverage

Fertility benefits weren’t always offered through employers, even as of 2009. Back then, employees had to pay for fertility services themselves, which meant that these types of treatments were financially out of reach for most individuals and couples. It wasn’t until 2010 that some insurance carriers started to offer coverage for fertility treatments. However, this was limited to heterosexual, cisgender couples with an infertility diagnosis. 

Consumer expectations 

People had very low expectations around fertility and family-building offerings. Most couldn’t afford in vitro fertilization (IVF), adoption, or gestational carrier services in the first place. This was especially true for racial minorities, single-intending parents, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, who had no way of accessing fertility care on their own.

The present: 2016 to 2022

Over the last few years, fertility benefits have skyrocketed in popularity. In fact, they’ve become one of the top offerings that companies invest in to attract and retain top talent. 

In 2022, 63% of employers are expected to cover fertility services beyond the diagnosis of infertility. This includes leading organizations like Tesla, Medtronic, Lyft, and The New York Times. But what about consumer expectations, cost, and coverage? Have those factors changed as well? The answer is a definitive yes. 

Cost and coverage

Most insurance carriers still don’t cover services for people without an infertility diagnosis. This means that they remain inaccessible for the LGBTQIA+ population.

Thankfully, care navigation solutions started coming onto the market around 2016, allowing employers to offer benefits that support the family-building needs of their employees. However, one of the downsides of these benefits providers is they serve as the middlemen between the facilities and the employees, and so their costs tend to be quite high.  

Consumer expectations 

Today’s healthcare consumers have very different expectations than they did five to ten years ago. There are a few reasons why: 

First, there has been an uptick in consumer-focused startups like One Medical, Parsley Health, and Forward—showing people that they can have personalized, seamless, healthcare experiences.

Second, the employees themselves have changed. Today’s women are waiting longer to have children. In fact, 20% of women now have a child over age 35 compared to only 8% a decade ago. An effect of this decision is that more people are dealing with fertility-related issues. 1 in 3 women over age 35 struggle with infertility, and 1 in 6 heterosexual couples have difficulty conceiving. 

There has also been increasing demand for inclusive fertility benefits, given that 63% of LGBTQ+ people are planning to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents. We’re also seeing a rise in single-intending parents who want to start families on their own.

The future: 2022 and beyond

So what can we predict about the future? What will the employees of tomorrow expect from their fertility and family-building benefits? Here’s what we predict: 

Cost and coverage

The most modern iteration of fertility coverage—and the one that we firmly believe will be relevant in the future—is a full-spectrum, direct-contracting model that gives employees access to all the services they need, without the price markups. The future of fertility care coverage will also focus on: 

  • Value-based care
  • Transparent pricing 
  • Affordable telemedicine options
  • Bundled payment models 
  • Integrations with existing health plans

Consumer expectations 

We believe that the healthcare consumers of today and tomorrow want more options on where, when, and how they receive their care—whether that’s virtually, in a clinic or at home.

They also want price transparency and access to treatments that don’t break the bank. And they expect a seamless, personalized end-to-end experience that addresses their unique needs. 

People will also continue to demand more equitable benefits from their employers—and that includes fertility and family-building benefits that are accessible by all employees, regardless of their sex, gender identity, marital status, or location. 

Now is the time to plan for your future fertility care benefits. 

So this begs the question: how can you, as an employer, offer fertility and family-building benefits that address the needs of both today’s and tomorrow’s workforce? What steps can you take to ensure your offerings are just as relevant in 2022 as they will be in the next five years? If you’re curious to explore the answers to these questions, download our ebook here. 

Kindbody is a new generation of women's health and fertility care. Providing you with the information you need to take control of your health and make the decisions that are right for you. We’re a community of healthcare providers, fertility specialists, and women who get it. We’re on a mission to democratize and de-stigmatize women’s health and fertility care, making it accessible, intuitive, and empowering.