For many of us, experiences with fertility treatment have been confined to Hollywood. We cheered on Mindy Kaling’s character from The Mindy Project as she opened her fertility clinic in downtown NYC. Then we devoured news articles about why Kim Kardashian and Kanye West chose to hire a gestational surrogate for their youngest child. There’s a reason for this distance: Fertility services are dang pricey. After Carrot co-founder and CEO Tammy Sun froze her eggs (and consequently spent half her savings) at the age of 34, she made it her life’s work to help transform fertility care into an accessible workplace benefit. Now hundreds of trendsetting companies across the US are offering fertility coverage to the millions (yes, millions!) of employees who need it. Fertility treatment is the future, at least according to Sun, so why not just figure it out now?

A doctor speaks with her patient

Currently, the most common type of fertility coverage is offered strictly through insurance — more specifically, infertility insurance, which requires an official medical diagnosis to pay out. These diagnoses are typically only doled out after a couple that would expect to be able to conceive together has been unsuccessfully attempting it for six months to a year, depending on the age of the person who can get pregnant. Seems pretty exclusionary, right? Sun thinks so. “Obviously, this severely and unfairly limits access to important family-forming coverage for same-sex couples, [cisgender] male-female couples who don’t want to try and fail for a year, individual [people] who want to freeze eggs, and many more.” Planning ahead for children can be especially important for transgender women expecting to undergo the types of gender-affirming surgeries — either as a desired part of their transition or as a requirement for attaining legal recognition of their gender — that involve sterilization.

Because it’s unfair — unethical, even — to provide fertility benefits that primarily apply to straight cisgender employees seeking children while excluding many others, most companies choose to forgo the option altogether. “Other than insurance, companies don’t have a way to offer fertility coverage in a way that fits their budget, goals, and employee needs,” explains Sun. Thankfully, there are some alternatives in the works. Carrot, for instance, partners with companies to create customizable plans for all its clients’ employees, regardless of age, marital status, gender (including ones different from birth assignments), or sexual orientation. “Carrot is reinventing what fertility coverage means, who has access to it, when, and how,” Sun states. This year’s most commonly requested services have been egg freezing, surrogacy, and transgender fertility care support, but other kinds of fertility treatments include fertility testing, consultations, embryo freezing, semen analysis, in vitro fertilization (IVF), genetic testing, donor eggs and sperm, and adoption, according to Sun.

A woman stands smiling against a copper wall

Unsurprisingly, some industries have taken to the idea of offering fertility benefits faster than others. For example, consider tech. “When Facebook and Google first rolled out coverage for egg freezing nearly five years ago, it set a new bar for how the private sector thinks about fertility care at work,” says Sun. Since then, the media, consulting, finance, and retail industries have been what Sun refers to as “early movers.” However, she thinks fertility benefits are soon to be commonplace. “Fertility is a fundamental part of human healthcare,” Sun asserts. “We believe that fertility benefits will become a table stakes part of what employees expect when they go to work, alongside medical, dental, and vision coverage.”

Does your organization offer fertility benefits? Would these benefits help you pick a new employer? Tell us about your experience @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)