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When it comes to supporting employees with families, traditional benefit offerings may no longer cut it.

As concepts of family expand beyond the nuclear unit, benefits must evolve to meet a wider range of needs. With shifts in social norms, advancements in reproductive technology, and greater awareness of diversity, companies that modernize their family benefits stand to attract and retain more talent.

Rising Demand for Fertility Support

Many see the lack of fertility coverage as a major gap in today’s benefits packages. According to the World Health Organization, one in six couples worldwide experience infertility issues. For those looking to conceive, treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) provide hope but carry hefty price tags. A single IVF cycle costs anywhere between $7,000 to $20,000 out of pocket in the United States.

With so many struggling to afford treatment, demand for fertility benefits has skyrocketed. In a 2023 survey, 42% of employees said lack of fertility benefits would be a deal-breaker when considering a job offer. Of those planning to use assisted reproductive technology to start a family, 22% told Maven Clinic they’d likely be more focused at work if their employer covered IVF.

Despite this demand, most health plans leave fertility treatment uninsured. Specialty “family building” benefits can help fill the gap through medical grants, discounted rates at partner clinics, access to specialty pharmacies, and more. With customized fertility offerings, employers can stand out in recruitment and improve retention.

Welcoming Parenthood with Diverse Paths

Besides rising interest in fertility treatment, societal shifts also point to a need for benefits that support diverse family structures. Households headed by same-sex couples have tripled over the past decade, and anywhere between 2 and 3.7 million U.S. children have an LGBTQ+ parent. With this demographic more likely to grow their families through foster care, adoption, or surrogacy, tailored offerings can affirm employees across the spectrum of lived experiences.

To back surrogacy and adoption processes, some employer packages now include reimbursements for agency fees as well as storage costs for frozen eggs and embryos. Packages also increasingly offer access to emotional support resources – from choosing an egg/sperm donor to coping with failed attempts – that recognize diverse needs. Beyond financial assistance, paid family leave equally available to all and policies that don’t assume a “mom and dad” signal cultural awareness.

Holistic Support for the Perinatal Period

In addition to conception hurdles, employees today seek backup during pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenting, and robust family benefits can provide this support.

According to Gallup, 18% of women switch employers while pregnant or immediately after parental leave. A LinkedIn survey similarly found that 86% of working mothers don’t think their company supports them enough through major life events. The perinatal period is a fragile time professionally, emotionally, and physically.

To promote retention, leading companies now offer access to virtual care, extended leave options, return-to-work programs, coaching/counseling, childcare stipends, and more – for all parents, not just new moms. For example, consulting firm Deloitte offers 16 weeks paid leave for all parents. Accounting giant EY (formerly Ernst & Young) provides $25K lifetime fertility benefits, while Pinterest covers up to $20K for surrogacy costs.

Lactation consultants, pelvic floor therapists, sleep coaches, and mental health counselors are increasingly covered too, often available remotely through family benefit platforms. Rather than one-size-fits-all offerings, the goal is holistic support tailored to each transitioning family’s needs.

The Rise of Virtual Care

No discussion of modernizing benefits is complete without mentioning virtual care. Over the past decade, telehealth platforms have granted patients on-demand access to providers without the constraints of geography or scheduling. Today, virtual appointments represent a natural evolution of family benefits – providing convenient support during life’s often messy milestones.

In the fertility space, those struggling to conceive can connect with reproductive endocrinologists for timely evaluations, referrals, and treatment plans. The option saves costs of repeat pregnancy tests and long wait times for consultations.

Throughout pregnancy and postpartum, 24/7 telehealth means connecting with lactation specialists, therapists, pediatricians, obstetricians, and more whenever needs arise.

For children’s care, pediatric telemedicine lets parents skip urgent care runs for minor concerns like ear infections, reducing time away from work. Such offerings join the growing list of family benefits employers can leverage to stand out.

For more Employee Benefits resources, contact INSURICA today.

Copyright © 2024 Smarts Publishing. This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. 

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