Quick look: National Family Month coincides with the end of the school year and the start of summer when parents and their children have a chance to spend ample quality time together. Running between the weeks following Mother’s Day and up until Father’s Day, this time calls for consideration of how family-forming benefits impact employees and today’s top talent.
School’s out for summer, which means more time for parents and their kids to enjoy the season as a family. National Family Month is a reminder to look at family benefits in a new light and ensure inclusive plans are in place.
Employees want to ensure their benefits are extended to their families whenever possible. And those wanting to become parents for the first time appreciate employers who understand the value of family-forming benefits as part of a complete compensation package. Therefore, brokers would be remiss to exclude these from the conversation regarding employer health plans for the clients.
Exploring the rise of family-forming benefits
Employer health plans often include the addition of spouses and families, but fertility benefits are newer to the scene. In 2016, only 2% of organizations covered egg freezing services, a statistic which jumped to 6% in 2018. However, as of 2020, 27% of U.S. small- and medium-sized business (SMB) employers covered IVF treatment and nearly 11% offered egg freezing.
The demand for these types of benefits have not only increased over the past several years but have become instrumental in attracting and retaining best-in-class talent. Data shows 77% of employees would stay longer at their company if fertility benefits were offered, and 88% would consider changing jobs to receive access to them. Although, it’s also important to look past traditional IVF coverage and consider alternative benefits as well, such as:
- Adoption support
- Donor-assisted reproduction services
- Emotional support for child loss
So, what’s the reason behind the shift?
When fertility treatment was first introduced, it was a novel concept limited to a select few and largely kept private. But as it’s gained popularity over the years, greater accessibility has allowed more people to experience parenthood. Meanwhile, there’s been a palpable priority shift post-pandemic. For employees, it’s been focusing on work-life balance and the importance of family life. And for employers, it’s witnessing a job market where candidates are calling the shots.
Moreover, implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies in the workplace has also increased over the past few years. Historically, health insurance benefits have not been as equitable for women and minority groups, which places an extra burden on them to pay out-of-pocket costs for health expenses, such as IVF. Failing to address the need for affordable, family-forming benefits is a huge miss for recruiting and retaining quality talent.
Brokers who understand this growing demand for family-forming benefits are already having conversations with clients regarding next steps and how a professional employer organization (PEO) can benefit businesses by elevating their offerings.
Helping SMBs secure high-value benefits at a lower cost
For most companies, particularly SMBs, leaders want to expand their benefit options, but the expense is not sustainable. Fortunately, there are several ways PEO brokers can work with their SMB clients to configure a way which makes sense for their workforce needs. Solutions may involve:
Offering a HDHP
A high deductible health plan (HDHP) can be combined with a health savings account (HSA) which allows employees to pay for certain medical expenses tax-free. These may include IVF treatment, fertility monitors and pregnancy tests, and even transportation expenses for healthcare appointments. Though it’s necessary to confirm exact coverage and accepted inclusions, many of the most desired fertility services can be part of the plan.
Adding employee assistance programs (EAPs)
Fertility treatment and other factors involving family-forming benefits can cause an increased amount of stress and anxiety on employees. The addition of an EAP includes services such as counseling and expert referrals, financial and legal aid, as well as educational presentations, webinars, and other resources. These all aid employees in addressing their emotional well-being, guiding their family budgets, and providing personalized solutions.
Maintaining telehealth options
Telehealth became a core need during the pandemic. But even as in-person appointments have returned as the norm, many prefer staying remote. Ensuring health plans include telehealth care takes away some of the time constraints and extra costs which can delay people from receiving the support and services they need. The efficiency often makes it less expensive than an office visit and expands employees’ options.
Encompassing a diverse provider network
Insurance coverage with a variety of providers better addresses the unique healthcare needs of those ready to start a family. It also provides a larger geographic reach and provider diversity, such as ethnic and gender preferences, which add to the convenience and comfort of those seeking family benefits.
Implementing flexible schedules
Even if a SMB employer can’t afford to offer family-forming benefits, providing a flexible schedule can still help employees who are seeking IVF and other forms of family care. It provides autonomy when scheduling doctor appointments and counseling services. Plus, it builds a culture of inclusivity without a need for increased spending.
Working with a PEO
PEO brokers have the distinct advantage of partnering with a team of HR experts who understand the importance of personalizing employer health plans. A PEO delivers premium benefits at affordable costs to compete with larger companies and their larger budgets. Furthermore, they work directly with brokers and SMB clients to create specially designed plans and allocate resources as needed to minimize costs and maximize benefits.
Full-service solutions through ExtensisHR
PEO brokers rely on trusted partnerships like ExtensisHR to add an extra advantage when supporting their clients. Addressing the demand for family-forming benefits requires expertise, employee sensitivity, and individual attention rather than a one-size-fits all plan as typically offered with a big-box PEO.
With a comprehensive suite of HR services and a focus on company growth, our experts provide flexible solutions to cater to changing needs and keep SMBs competitive. To learn how a partnership will benefit you and your growing portfolio, contact ExtensisHR today.