COVID-19’s impact on family-forming and how employers can help

In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many family-forming journeys were put on hold. Now, as vaccine access expands and the world moves into the next phase of the pandemic, employers are reinvesting in and recommitting to must-have healthcare. In a webinar with HR Transform, Tammy Sun, Co-Founder and CEO of Carrot Fertility, and Brian Marcotte, Former CEO and President, Business Group on Health, discuss employer and employee priorities for fertility and family-forming benefits now.

Highlights from the webinar:

Pent-up demand for fertility journeys as the pandemic changes

Tammy discusses the disruptions in family-forming journeys Carrot saw over the last year, as clinics closed or limited services and many people avoided non-emergency care. Now, Carrot is seeing a resurgence of fertility treatments as more people access vaccines and feel increasingly comfortable seeking healthcare services again. Brian says that data backs up those trends towards reinvestment, particularly in Business Group on Health’s annual survey. Fertility care is also an example of how employers are increasingly looking at wellbeing as a holistic strategy, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, he says.

“When you look at family planning and parenthood, it’s important for employers to address the diversified list of needs not only about IVF, but IVF alternatives, financial support for adoption and surrogacy, coaching and navigation through the planning process, as well as behavioral health support,” Brian says. “When companies step back and look at holistic wellbeing, they’re really trying to wrap the right resources around people to help them maximize their experience.”

He notes that improvements in targeted employee communications as well as reduced stigma around discussing fertility challenges in the workplace have both expanded the conversation around what employees want and need. For employers who are concerned about the costs around adding fertility benefits, he recommends looking closer at the long-term value of providing access to high-quality care.

“Some employers are unwilling to enhance the benefit thinking it’s going to drive up their healthcare costs,” he says. “But the flip side is, if you do it the right way and direct people to centers of excellence, and you reduce multiple births, you’re going to save more money than you’re spending. It’s important to look at the impact of total cost of care, and what it does for you from a retention and recruitment perspective, to have family planning benefits in your organization.”

The search for global benefits parity 

Another key trend the pandemic highlighted has been the growth in remote and distributed workforces. Global companies are looking for ways to offer benefits parity across all of their locations – which can be a complicated process. In the webinar, Brian shares that in a prior role, it took the company ten years to harmonize benefits globally. Tammy discusses how over the last four years, Carrot has worked closely with U.S. headquartered, multinational companies to create products and services that reflect their needs. 

“The complexity really boils down to four main areas: Financial, legal, regulatory, providers, and cultural,” she says. “Being able to navigate all of those things on the ground at least from the fertility perspective is really valuable for employers.”

Brian adds that global communications challenges are just as complex as building out global benefits plans. “For example, while in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be allowed in a particular country, the stigma around it may be a significant barrier to access,” he says. “And how you communicate those benefits varies significantly by country, and even within countries.”

The need for flexible solutions 

At the end of their conversation, Brian shares final thoughts on how employers can find benefits vendors that meet the moment. Every company is different, and large companies in particular often have specific processes and approaches. He recommends finding vendors that are willing to adapt to what you do as an organization, rather than the other way around. Because healthcare costs are likely to rise this year in response to pent-up demand, understanding a program’s ROI is also more important than ever, Brian says. Finally, he recommends looking at a company’s track record in terms of inclusivity and whether they have a proven way of engaging diverse populations in their product.

“All of these things that we’ve talked about have become much more important in today’s world than even a few years ago,” Brian says.

Tammy says that she’s also seen demand for flexibility, ROI, global coverage, and inclusivity in her conversations with employers, all of which are key focuses for Carrot. “We really strive to invest and re-invest and double down on the flexibility we give to employers when it comes to designing products that are modern, have a clear ROI, are inclusive and can be expanded globally,” she says.

As the world moves into the next chapter, employers and benefit leaders are on the front lines of innovation when it comes to how health is evolving, especially in the U.S., Tammy says. She gives a virtual hat tip to employers who have strived to support their employees during these challenging times.

If you’re interested in including fertility and family-forming as part of your wellness strategy, get in touch with us.

See how Carrot can transform your company

Find out how our customizable fertility solutions can help your plan, your groups, and your members.
Contact us