Justworks and Kindbody extend free fertility benefits to small employers
Despite the wonder and happiness of welcoming a new life into the world, starting a family can also be physically, emotionally and financially draining. Two employee benefits providers are joining forces in hopes of making the experience easier.
Justworks, an HR tool that helps small businesses manage their payroll, compliance and benefits, has teamed up with Kindbody, a fertility clinic network and family-building benefits provider. Their partnership will provide any Justworks employer client (who uses Aetna and UnitedHealthcare) with complimentary access to Kindbody's services. At no extra cost to employers, over 130,000 workers and their dependents will have access to a 20% discount on fertility assessments, fertility preservation, in vitro fertilization, donor and surrogacy services and adoption assistance as well a complimentary coaching session.
"We always take the approach of co-creating our benefits with our employers and really listening to their needs," says Lina Dorkhman, group product manager of benefits at Justworks. "We saw a ton of qualitative signals that pointed to fertility and family-building benefits being very much top of mind for our population."
Given that approximately 11% of women and 9% of men in the U.S. struggle with infertility, according to the National Institutes of Health, fertility benefits are likely top of mind for many employee populations. But fertility benefits are often reserved for large employers: only one-third of U.S. employers with less than 500 employers covered at least one infertility service, compared to 61% of employers who had 500 or more employees, according to a 2021 Mercer survey. For Dorkhman, this partnership represented an opportunity to expand fertility benefits to small businesses. Notably, Justworks' average employer client has just 17 employees.
"We want to make the choice of staying with a small business easier for employees," says Dorkhman. "You should be able to work for a startup, help it grow and do things you're passionate about without sacrificing the quality and breadth of your benefits package."
As for Kindbody, this partnership underscored their mission of bringing quality family-building care to every American, regardless of the company they work for.
"Everyone needs this benefit in some capacity — at its core, family is a universal desire, whether someone wants one now or in the future," says Dr. Fahimeh Sasan, chief innovation officer and founding physician at Kindbody. "It should have nothing to do with the size of the company, industry or the socioeconomic class of the employee. [Infertility] can impact younger people or older people, and is not just a woman issue. It transcends gender and gender identity."
Dr. Sasan notes that even if an individual is uncertain about growing their family, they should have the option to preserve their fertility through procedures like egg freezing and embryo banking. And yet, fertility preservation doesn't come cheap, with egg-freezing patients on average spending $30,000 to $40,000 on treatment and storage of their eggs, according to Dr. James Grifo, a fertility specialist at medical center NYU Langone Health. Since women tend to undergo two or more egg-freezing cycles and store their eggs for five years, the costs add up.
It doesn't help that insurance is required to cover infertility care nationwide. While 20 states have passed laws mandating fertility insurance coverage, there are still 30 states left without any assurance. For most of its history, fertility benefits were cutting-edge technology reserved for those who had the wealth to spare, explains Dr. Sasan.
"Historically, these benefits were limited to the top white 1% because it was a cash-only industry where specialists could charge as much as they wanted because no one was covering it," she says. "It was a cash industry serving a vulnerable population who wanted a family. As a result, the price is historically and continues to be extravagant."
However, employers have begun to shift that narrative by providing once-exclusive care to their own workforces. Kindbody and Justworks hope they can help accelerate this movement.
"This partnership has actually been some time in the making," says Dorkhman. "This is just an example of a benefit that can both help small business employers live their values, but ultimately, help employees fulfill their potential."