A growing number of Canadian firms are offering fertility perks. What gives?

To promote DE&I in the workplace, an increasing number of Canadian employers are include fertility and family-building coverage in employee benefit plans.

Medavie Blue Cross has just introduced a new program to help families with the expenses associated with fertility treatments, surrogacy, and adoption. This is in response to the increasing demand for such services.

“It is still a niche, comparatively, but we are seeing larger and larger uptake,” commented Shane Reid (pictured), head of medicine and product management at Medavie Blue Cross.

Employers who value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace and recognize its importance in creating a welcoming environment for employees do their best to provide a holistic view of benefits when considering whether or not to include the family building benefit in optional coverage plans.

Infertility treatments and adoptions are becoming more expensive
Medavie Blue Cross introduced the family-building benefit to help offset the rising costs associated with having a family in Canada. In Canada, infertility affects around 1 in 6 couples, as reported by the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society.

With surrogacy costing up to $80,000 and in vitro fertilization (IVF) averaging $10,000 to $15,000 per cycle, becoming a parent may be a challenging and expensive process. Adoption costs can start at about $15,000 for each child when done privately.

Canadian families are already struggling financially, and the high costs are making things worse. Half of Canadians think about getting a second job or putting extra money on credit to pay for reproductive treatments, according to research from Medavie Blue Cross.

An optional fertility benefit that included surgeries and medicines was established a couple of years ago, according to Reid.

To alleviate some of the financial burden that families endure, we launched that initial benefit. That original fertility service was meant to be expanded upon by the family-building benefit.

“We wanted to make sure that members who wanted to start families in different ways had the same choices and coverage levels for surrogacy and adoption, two alternative ways to build a family.”

Assuring that diverse families have access to affordable healthcare
Reid added that there is a growing need for more inclusive fertility benefit coverage among LGBTQIA+ Canadians, older couples, and individuals seeking help and alternative options for starting a family.

The focus is on LGBTQIA+ Canadians, couples and individuals who are postponing children until later in life, and persons battling infertility, according to Reid.

Options, like fertility treatments, do not come cheap. To make these options more affordable, the family building benefit aims to offset some of the expenditures.

Coverage for fertility treatments and operations can reach $15,000 under the tiered optional benefits plan, while adoption and surrogacy costs can reach $30,000 and $30,000, respectively. In addition to programs financed by the government, this coverage is optional.

Supportive employee benefits help businesses
Finally, fertility benefits give businesses a great chance to increase pay for current employees while also attracting top talent.

“When employees start to look at what employers do, they see the importance of having inclusive benefits within their plan design,” said Reid, referring to research that found 95% of employees to agree. “Employers that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion are seeking this inclusion as part of their comprehensive review.”

In addition to expanding access to reproductive treatments and family-building programs, Medavie Blue Cross is putting a lot of effort into providing inclusive benefit alternatives this year. These include benefits for women’s health, mental health, and gender affirmation.

The carrier also introduced a digital solution last year to update its employee and family support program. Inkblot Therapy powers the program, which keeps in-person counseling but adds self-service intake, scheduling, and virtual treatment.

DE&I informs all of our benefit decisions, as one of the four lenses mentioned by Reid to ensure alignment with mission.