It’s unlikely that you considered a company’s fertility benefits when you chose your job. Especially when you think about the economy, choosing a job while keeping in mind its implications for your fertility needs is implausible. Or maybe you already knew about your infertility treatment plan when considering a company, but don’t know what questions or demands to make to ensure that your employer provides the infertility treatment coverage you are seeking. You may even be fearful that speaking up for your fertility needs may be detrimental to your career due to discrimination. Courts have passed laws that prohibit employment discrimination against women, but some women still face the challenge of being unfairly treated on the job or while looking for work because they are pregnant or because an employer thinks they are likely to become pregnant. It takes bravery to speak up. But remember, you’re not alone, and you can successfully talk with your employer about infertility coverage.
By relying on the same self-advocacy techniques you used to talk with your doctor and insurance provider, you can advocate with your employer to get the most support you can get for your fertility journey. By finding that strong inner voice, you really can encourage your employer to add infertility treatment coverage to existing health plans or to enhance current infertility benefits.
In preparation for communicating with your employer, you should be prepared and informed about the details surrounding your request so you feel as confident and comfortable as possible. Be clear about what you are asking for, why it is important, and what you perceive the impacts of that request will be. Many employers do not provide infertility coverage simply because they do not realize there is a need for it. By speaking up and advocating for your infertility needs, you will be helping your own cause as well as paving the way to help others who may be dealing with similar issues. But nothing will change if you don’t ask!
Please use Fertility Within Reach’s tip sheet below to help prepare to communicate with your employer regarding the reasons they should provide insurance coverage for your infertility needs.
UNDERSTAND THEIR POSITION
Know who to go to. Depending on your comfort level it might be uncomfortable for you to have to discuss your health issues with someone at work. Prior to providing the background on your situation, be sure you have the best point of contact at your employer to deal with insurance benefits. This person is normally within human resources and should be knowledgeable on your insurer.
Do their homework. Depending on the size of your company or the variety of available insurance plans, your human resource specialist may not know all of the specifics of your health plan off hand. To help gain their support from the beginning, it can be helpful to provide the documentation you’ve gathered regarding your plan and the specific coverage you are requesting.
Ask – and you may receive. Many employers cite the reason they do not offer infertility coverage is because of perceived low demand in their organization. Almost two thirds of insurers that do provide infertility treatment benefits state that they offer it because an employee at a workplace asked for the coverage. Your employer will not offer the coverage without knowing the need is there. It is up to you to ask. Please refer to the Sample Letter to Employers to learn more about how to ask for benefits.
DEVELOP YOUR STRATEGY
Do your homework. There is a wealth of information available regarding the reasons an employer should offering infertility benefits. Compile and share this information to show them the potential advantages of offering this coverage. See some of the Helpful Facts below.
Build a network. If you are comfortable discussing your infertility with co-workers, you should. Given that 1 in 8 couples in the US are affected by infertility, chances are many of them have either been directly impacted by infertility or know someone who has. Strength builds when numbers increase! Your employer is more likely to adjust benefits when multiple employees rally for the cause.
Ask for an exception. In some cases, an employer might not be willing to adjust their benefits package to include infertility coverage for all. However, in some cases a company may grant exceptions when requested by an employee. For example, if your benefits are capped at one IVF cycle but another is necessary, your employer may consider making an exception.
HELPFUL FACTS FOR EMPLOYERS
Use the facts below to present a case to your employer regarding to offer infertility benefits.
- According to a 2006 survey of 900 companies by Mercer Consulting, of those that offered infertility coverage, 91% said they had no increase in healthcare costs as a result of adding infertility benefits.1
- Employers that provide infertility benefits experience improved retention, recruit valuable employees and enjoy higher staff morale.2
- In addition, self-insured organizations might be unaware of state mandates (since they are not required to abide by them). In order to remain competitive and increase employee retention and morale, companies should consider adding these benefits.
- Studies indicate that the cost of including IVF services in healthcare benefits is a minute fraction of the annual cost of a family benefits plan.3
1 Employer experience with, and attitudes toward, coverage of infertility treatment. Mercer Health and Benefits LLC; 2006 May 31, 2006.
2 Isaacs JC. Infertility coverage is good business. Fertil Steril. 2008 5;89(5):1049-52.
3 Henne MB, Bundorf MK. Insurance mandates and trends in infertility treatments. Fertil Steril. 2008 1;89(1):66-73.