For many women who want to start a family, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is, for many reasons, the best or only option. But IVF can be an expensive process: Each attempt at having a baby using IVF can cost upwards of $20,000, according to Forbes. And since it can take a few tries for IVF to result in a pregnancy, it can quickly become very expensive to have a baby this way. But thanks to companies that offer a range of fertility coverage for employees, including Starbucks, some families are able to more comfortably afford IVF treatments.
According to FertilityIQ, an online database of information about fertility, only around one in four women who have had fertility treatments had them covered through their employer’s health insurance. More than half said their employer didn’t cover any of their fertility treatments. But some companies see a lot of value in offering desirable, under-covered fertility treatments in their insurance plans, even to part-time employees.
Reggie Borges, the manager of global corporate communications for Starbucks, tells Brit + Co that the company began offering coverage for IVF about 10 years ago. Determining benefits, Borges says, is largely a process of receiving and implementing feedback from employees, who have said that family is really important to them, leading Starbucks to offer family benefits including fertility treatments. The company covers up to $20,000 in treatments and medication for both full-time employees and part-timers who work at least 20 hours per week.
IVF is a long-standing benefit at Starbucks, but isn’t very common, especially in retail and food service industries, in part because it’s not legally required. Though the Affordable Care Act requires employers to cover certain essential benefits related to family planning, including pregnancy, and maternal and infant care, fertility treatments aren’t on the list of essentials. But for Starbucks employees, the majority of whom make under $40,000 a year according to FertilityIQ, up to $20,000 in help paying for IVF can make all the difference.
Borges says that providing employees with the benefits they most want and need is a no-brainer for the company, explaining that when employees feel supported and engaged, it really shows in their work. “Offering benefits like this elicits a unique brand loyalty” among employees, he explains, adding that the company ultimately wants to do right by their employees, and offer crucial benefits. For Starbucks, that means ongoing communication with employees about their needs, and what is and isn’t working about their existing benefits.
Research shows that providing coverage for fertility treatments does have a hugely positive impact on how employees feel about their jobs. According to a 2016 report from FertilityIQ, 73 percent of IVF treatment patients who had employer coverage said they felt “more grateful” toward their employer. Fertility coverage also made employees feel more loyal 61 percent of the time, and 53 percent of patients further said they actually stayed longer at their job as a result of IVF benefits.
Clearly, Starbucks is onto something, and a handful of companies go even further, offering employees unlimited fertility coverage for those who struggle with infertility. According to FertilityIQ, Spotify, Bank of America, the Boston Consulting Group, and Chanel all offer coverage with no cost limit to employees who demonstrate they need fertility treatments in order to have a baby. One caveat, however, is that not all companies extend IVF to LGBTQ employees who may not have fertility issues, but who would still like to take advantage of fertility treatments to have a family.
Fertility treatments are only becoming more popular as many women have started to wait until their 30s to have their first baby, which can sometimes present challenges for conceiving and staying pregnant. For many women who have problems with fertility, employer coverage of expensive treatments is vital not only for helping employees have families, but in making them so happy at work they’ll stay even longer than they’d planned.
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