Viewpoints from Kerry Connor
Family-forming medical services have evolved over recent years into a popular addition to benefit offerings. The rules surrounding family forming are catching up to reflect much-needed inclusion in this realm, allowing equitable treatment for any person who’s dreamed of being a genetic parent to raise a child. The ability to form a family without medical assistance is often taken for granted – until you’ve personally experienced the gamut of emotions that come with the territory, you may not be able to fully appreciate what your understanding and action mean to those who need it most.
An Inclusive Take on Family Forming
The good news is that there are options available for organizations that want to show just how deeply they care about employees looking to form a family. And we aren’t just talking about services for heterosexual couples… We know what’s important to our clients – we recognize that LGBTQIA+ and single prospective parents have long been left in the dust when it comes to family forming. We’re hoping to help close that gap and effect positive change in a world that no longer has space for discrimination inside (or outside) the workplace. We understand that this journey can take a heavy toll on mental wellbeing and having resources in place to support it can be transformative to those impacted.
The infertility facts are moving:
- The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates in 2023, one in six people, roughly 17.5% of the adult population, are affected worldwide by infertility – illustrating the need for access to affordable, quality care for those in need. 
- The National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine documents that “Infertility is often a silent struggle. Patients who are struggling to conceive report feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loss of control. Depression levels in patients with infertility have been compared with patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. 
- “The number of employers offering family-forming benefits has grown [since 2016] as organizations view these offerings as part of their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts,” according to SHRM. 
- “The financial and discriminatory barriers [of family building] can also be significant for employees who choose a gestational carrier to conceive or those seeking adoption services. Surrogacy can cost upwards of $150,000, including medical and legal fees, and private adoption can cost between $20k and $50k. And because of discrimination against LGBTQIA+ couples, getting secondary parentage rights for unmarried or domestic partners can add additional costs and legal complexity,” says Maven Clinic in their 2023 report. 
There is a myriad of ways that employers can assist prospective parents in their family-forming journey. Prime examples of voluntary programs or employer-sponsored plan coverages include, but are not limited to:
- Fertility Treatments: assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), and related testing, hormonal treatments and consultations
- Surrogacy: a gestational surrogate carries a genetically linked embryo for an intended parent when they cannot, requiring medical and legal expertise, as well as a strong support process throughout the journey
- Adoption: locating a child for a prospective parent who doesn’t require a genetic link, entailing legal expertise and further support.
This is not an easy road to travel – neither for an employee or their employer. Every population has different needs, and every company has limits on what their budget can accommodate. Family-forming barriers can manifest in the workplace as emotional and financial stress, with profound consequences. The message you send about family-forming benefits requires a sensitive, human touch to a particularly vulnerable audience. It takes a knowledgeable, experienced consultant to help find that balance and get this delicate message across.
Are you ready for a conversation that has the power to positively impact your employees’ lives for generations to come? Our team is prepared to explore these options and find the right fit for your company and its workforce.
Surrogacy decisions are emotionally and financially stressful. EPIC partners with Circle Surrogacy to provide a straightforward option for our clients. Learn more in our Progressive Family Forming Surrogacy Guarantee Program overview, which can be downloaded through the form box at the top of this page.
Fill out this short form to download your copy of our Progressive Family Forming overview and learn how we can support voluntary surrogacy benefits at your company.
National Voluntary Benefits Practice Leader