This interview originally appeared on the Namely blog.
In this interview with Dr. Fahimeh Sasan, Kindbody’s Chief Innovation Officer and Founding Physician, we explore what is included in fertility benefits, their recent rise in popularity, and why your company should consider including them in your benefits package.
What are fertility and family-building benefits? What is included?
Kindbody: Fertility and family-building benefits include a wide range of treatments and services that are covered by employers to support their employees on their path to parenthood. They can include fertility assessments, fertility preservation, in vitro fertilization (IVF), donor and gestational surrogacy services, and adoption.
Infertility is more common than diseases like diabetes and cancer. In fact, one in eight couples experience infertility in the U.S. Fertility treatments are very expensive and inaccessible to most. Without the financial assistance of their employer, many people won’t get the high-quality care they need.
Employers have stepped up and they are changing how this critical part of healthcare is delivered. Fertility benefits have also become an important part of building an inclusive workplace culture. They have taken their place next to medical, dental, and vision as standard workplace benefits.
Why are fertility and family-building benefits an important part of an inclusive benefits package?
Kindbody: It’s important to note that today we speak about fertility care as healthcare. That hasn’t always been the case. Until recently, when we spoke about fertility, it was a conversation about infertility. Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year of unprotected sex. Therefore, if an employer’s benefits package doesn’t offer fertility benefits beyond an infertility diagnosis, it’s leaving out part of its workforce.
LGBTQ+ individuals face barriers to accessing fertility care since they often don’t meet the definition of “infertility” that would qualify them for covered services. The same is true for single parents by choice. It’s also well-documented that there are significant disparities in access to fertility care amongst racial minorities.
For instance, Black women are twice as likely to suffer from infertility but are half as likely to access care as white women. A comprehensive, inclusive fertility benefits program can address some of these health inequities in the workplace. That’s why we’re hearing from more and more employers that family-building offerings support their organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals and objectives. More than half of employers are expected to cover fertility services beyond the diagnosis of infertility this year.
Why now? To what do we attribute the extreme growth in popularity of fertility benefits?
Kindbody: A series of macro trends have brought us to where we are today. 61 percent of women have a child over age 35, compared to 8 percent a decade ago. One in three women struggle with infertility over 35 and may need assisted reproductive technology (ART) to become pregnant. Just a decade ago, the experimental label was removed from egg freezing, making it much more acceptable for women. Shortly after, marriage equality was passed, opening up more options for LGBTQ+ people who hope to start or build their families. Interest in learning about one’s fertility skyrocketed during the pandemic. More than 10,000 people have attended Kindbody’s virtual fertility education events in the last two years.
So, what we’re seeing is that people not only need access to fertility care, but they are also more knowledgeable about their fertility in general. This is a big shift from just a few years ago when this topic was very rarely talked about. Employers should know that there is now mainstream awareness that there are companies that offer benefits that help their employees pay for family building and workers are making important career decisions with this in mind. Our recent survey found that 81 percent of employees will stay at their company longer if their employer offers family-building benefits.
That’s an eye-opening stat! How can HR convince employers to add fertility benefits to their benefits package?
Kindbody: I believe most will agree that supporting people in this critical part of healthcare is a good thing. Employers should also know that fertility benefits help attract and keep great talent, support DEI objectives, and save on healthcare costs.
HR leaders are actively using family-building benefits as a tool to attract candidates. Our clients say that these offerings have been important to their talent strategy over the past three years. There’s a good reason for this: people want family-building benefits. When we surveyed employees, 61 percent said they would change jobs for fertility benefits.
Retaining employees leads to significant cost savings for organizations. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that it costs a company around six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace them. Framed another way: replacing an employee who makes $60,000 per year could cost around $30,000 to $45,000.
A comprehensive, inclusive fertility benefits program can address health inequities in the workplace. Our clients tell us that Kindbody’s family-building offerings support the organization’s DEI goals and objectives.
And finally, most employers naturally assume that offering fertility benefits will increase their healthcare costs. However, there is no evidence to support this. Studies show that there are areas where employers actually saved money when adding fertility benefits. There’s a reason for this: patients that receive financial support for fertility treatments like IVF are more likely to make decisions based on outcomes and not cost. This, in turn, leads to safer, lower-risk pregnancies that don’t lead to unnecessary healthcare costs for the employer.
My advice to HR leaders that want to make a case for fertility benefits is to focus on the business case. As long as talent, DEI, and cost savings continue to be a priority for organizations, so should fertility benefits.
What makes Kindbody different from other fertility benefits providers?
Kindbody: Kindbody is unique because it’s the only fertility benefits provider that is in the provision of care with clinical expertise. Kindbody owns and operates clinics. We save employers 25 to 40 percent by contracting directly with them to provide comprehensive virtual and in-person fertility and family-building care to their employees. We remove the middleman, and in doing so, Kindbody is uniquely positioned to provide a seamless continuum of care, decrease cost, improve patient experience, and deliver better health outcomes.
Kindbody is also able to provide a broad spectrum of care in modalities to serve employees when and where they need it through virtual appointments, Kindbody Signature Clinics, mobile clinics, and our robust global network of partner clinics. Kindbody is the only fertility benefits solution that can provide employees and consumers with clinical visits in the comfort of their homes, no matter where they are.
Also unique to Kindbody is that we model the DEI values that are so important to our clients. Kindbody is women-owned and women-led. Our clinics are staffed to reflect the communities we serve so each individual feels seen and understood. Today, 80 percent of Kindbody’s physicians are women, 50 percent of Kindbody’s physicians identify as BIPOC, and 45 percent of Kindbody patients are BIPOC. This is incredibly rare in healthcare. Numerous studies show that sharing a racial or cultural background with one’s physician leads to a better patient experience, better adherence to medications and treatment plans, and better health outcomes. We built diversity into Kindbody’s delivery model, which is one of the things I am most proud of as Kindbody’s Founding Physician.
Kindbody is a leading fertility clinic network and family-building benefits provider for employers offering comprehensive virtual and in-person care. Kindbody’s clinically managed program includes fertility assessments and education, fertility preservation, genetic testing, in vitro fertilization (IVF), donor and surrogacy services, and adoption, as well as physical, mental, and emotional support from preconception through postpartum. Kindbody is the trusted fertility benefits provider for more than 90 employers, covering more than 2.4 million lives. Many thousands more receive their fertility care directly from Kindbody throughout the country at signature clinics, mobile clinics, and partner clinics. As the fertility benefits provider, technology platform, and direct provider of high-quality care, Kindbody delivers a seamless, integrated experience with superior health outcomes at lower cost, making fertility care more affordable and accessible for all.
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.