Fertility-related services are among the benefits emerging aspopular additions to a comprehensive employer sponsored package atlarge companies.

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A survey by the International Foundation ofEmployee Benefit Plans reported that nearly one-quarter of planrepresentatives interviewed for the study (Employee Benefits Survey2016) now offer coverage of fertility services. Another 19 percentinclude coverage for in vitro fertilization treatments, and 12percent now pay for fertility medications.

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What behind the trend? A combination of factors, says JulieStich, director of research at the foundation.

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“Fertility services are a highly valued benefit for employees,often with a low-cost impact for employers,” explains Julie Stich,CEBS, director of research at the foundation. “Employees who haveaccess to fertility benefits can actually have overall lower healthcare costs because they are making decisions with their doctorsbased on medical best practice, not on personal financialconcerns.”

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Fertility-related services have become attractive both from theemployer and employee side, so much so that consulting firm Mercerpartnered with a fertility services provider to create benefitsavailable to plan managers that cover the range of fertilitycosts.

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“Fertility benefits are becoming a key topic for employers andemployees alike,” David Kaplan, leader of Mercer Health InnovationLabs, told the Society for Human Resource Management. "Thisinterest is not only being driven by talent and retention-relatedissues, but also by the high cost for employers who, whether theyoffer infertility benefits or not, are still incurring much of theNICU and associated high-risk maternity-related expenses."

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Not surprisingly, small employers don’t generally offer coveragefor fertility related services. The study said just 4 percent ofemployers of fewer than 50 workers include fertility coverage intheir plans.

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The foundation's study found that all company benefits packagesare generally including more “family friendly” options, asemployers pursue talented young professionals to fill criticalpositions. Nearly half said they offer flexible work schedules, 37percent offer paid maternity leave, and 24 percent now offerpaternity leave.

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Among the other such benefits offered by those surveyed:

  • 19 percent offer paid leave for adoption.

  • 9 percent provide paid leave to attend children’sactivities.

  • 21 percent offer unpaid leave to attend children’sactivities.

  • 69 percent have dependent care flexible spending accounts.

  • 22 percent include resource and referral services for childcare.

  • 14 percent have resource and referral services for adoptedchildren in their plans;

  • 17 percent include Take Your Child to Work Day.

  • 16 percent offer financial assistance for adoption.

  • 10 percent offer emergency/sick child care.

  • 8 percent offer on-site or near-site child care.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.