These Tech Companies Cover Egg-Freezing And IVF News


When a doctor told an Apple employee and his wife that in vitro
fertilization was their only shot at a second child, they
worried whether the procedure would work. But they didn’t worry
about paying for it out of pocket, as most people in the United
States would.

Because of the husband’s health insurance, Apple covered their
IVF costs. Their son was born last year. “It feels like the
company cares about their people, that they realize this is
something that can be financially hard and emotionally hard,
and it offers you options,” said the 34-year-old woman, who
requested to not be identified.

Two years ago,
Apple and Facebook
made
headlines when they started to foot at least of part of the
bill for services like IVF and egg-freezing in an effort to
recruit and retain talented employees, particularly women. And
overall, the tech industry pours more money into fertility
benefits than any other industry, including finance, fashion,
and pharmaceuticals, according to a
poll released Tuesday by FertilityIQ, a startup that
collects patient feedback about fertility clinics. Google,
Intel, Spotify, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and the e-commerce
site Wayfair all also offer fertility benefits.

Based on a survey of about 1,000 users, FertilityIQ collected
data about how much dozens of major companies are willing to
spend on fertility benefits — information that most of the
companies do not publicly advertise. Coverage varies: Google
and Facebook, for example, require employees to go to certain
clinics, while other companies lack such restrictions,
according to FertilityIQ.

These services aren’t cheap. Egg-freezing costs about $10,000,
storage is $500 to $1,000 a year, and one IVF round goes for
around $15,000.

“We’ve heard for so long and for forever that it’s all
out-of-pocket and that companies never pay for it,” Jake
Anderson-Bialis, FertilityIQ’s cofounder, told BuzzFeed News in
reference to fertility benefits. He added, “That’s what’s
extraordinary about the tech companies, the extent to which
they’ll totally cover you. It’s uncommon.”

Critics
see
egg-freezing subsidies as a ploy to chain female employees
to their desks. “Rather than saying, ‘have your children in
your own time and we’ll support you with well-paid parental
leave and subsidised childcare, they’re saying, ‘work really
hard through your most fertile years and then when you may not
be able to have kids anymore, you can give it a shot with the
eggs we froze for you as a perk,’” Harriet Minter wrote in

The Guardian in October 2014, when news broke of
Apple and Facebook’s subsidies.

But proponents say these benefits are a good thing. More women
in the United States in general are having children later in
life, partly because they’re busy with school or careers,
or haven’t found their ideal partner.

“Anything that gives women, and ultimately women and their
partners, more options and more choice is good,” said Valerie
Baker, chief of the reproductive endocrinology and infertility
division at Stanford University School of Medicine, where she’s
seen an uptick in patients affiliated with tech companies like
Apple, Google, Facebook, and Cisco. Many patients don’t put off
starting families because they’re overworked, but more often
because they aren’t in an ideal relationship. “Maybe they just
separated from a relationship that was longer standing, maybe
it’s that they just haven’t met a person that they want to be
with long-term, or a relationship’s very new,” Baker said.

Paula Amato, an associate professor of obstetrics and
gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University, said, “I
don’t think providing this sort of coverage gives companies a
pass so they don’t have to think about providing work-life
balance for women. But I think the reality is, that doesn’t
exist right now. Why deprive women of that option if it’s
available?”

After a woman’s 20s, which are her best reproductive years, her
fertility declines in her 30s. Most women are
unable to have a successful pregnancy by their mid-40s. But
egg-freezing does not guarantee a family later in life. While
frozen eggs lead to live births after IVF nearly half the time,
the odds of a live birth are higher for IVF using fresh eggs,
according to
a 2015 study.

And aside from working for companies that volunteer to pick up
the tab, people who want fertility services have limited
financial help. Although some insurers may cover egg-freezing
for patients with diagnosed infertility, virtually none cover
it for non-medical reasons. Wounded veterans can receive

IVF coverage through the Department of Veterans Affairs,
and 15
states mandate some form of infertility insurance coverage,
but otherwise, few health plans cover IVF.

Nor does the Affordable Care Act mandate coverage for
infertility treatment. That’s highly unlikely to change under
President-elect Donald Trump, who has said he will repeal

some or
all of the law.

“I don’t think that coverage is going to come from the ACA,”
said Judith Daar, interim dean of Whittier Law School and a
clinical professor of medicine at UC Irvine. “Instead, we may
be looking to this model this study talks about — the provision
of care by private companies who view it as a way to compete in
the marketplace for certain types of employees.”

Intel, for example, started covering IVF, artificial
insemination, and other treatments in 2007. In October 2015, it

announced that it would increase coverage for fertility
medical services (from $10,000 to $40,000) and medication
expenses (from $5,000 to $20,000). The company also made
coverage available to all employees, not just those with
diagnosed infertility, and began covering the costs of freezing
and storing eggs, embryos, sperm, and cord blood. On top of
fertility benefits, Intel recently started reimbursing adoption
costs (up to $15,000 per child) and offering eight weeks of
paid “bonding” leave for new parents, both men and women, in
addition to as many as 26 weeks of maternity leave.

“You also have to make sure you’re creating a really
supportive work environment where everybody, especially
working parents, can really thrive.”

ID: 9983118

“We talk about setting goals for retention and hiring and pay
parity and promotion, and all those things are really
important,” Danielle Brown, Intel’s chief diversity and
inclusion officer and vice president of human resources, told
BuzzFeed News. “But you also have to make sure you’re creating
a really supportive work environment where everybody,
especially working parents, can really thrive.”

In 2015 and so far in 2016, female employees stayed at Intel at
higher rates than male employees, Brown noted. It is a reversal
of a decade-long trend, she said, although it’s unclear whether
the expanded fertility benefits were the direct cause.

FertilityIQ ranked Intel as one of the most generous tech
companies, second only to Spotify, which offers unlimited
dollars for fertility treatment. Benefits are also generous at
Apple, which covers $20,000 worth of fertility treatments, and
Facebook, which covers four IVF cycles. Wayfair covers up to
$40,000, according to a spokesperson, who declined to comment
further.

As far as restrictions go, Google and Facebook limit the
fertility clinics where employees can go, according to
FertilityIQ. (Daar noted that this requirement may not be
unusual if the companies also limit where employees can seek
other kinds of medical care.) And while some companies open up
their fertility benefits to all employees, others, like Bank of
America, require that employees are diagnosed as infertile.
That effectively cuts off coverage for women who want to become
single mothers and same-sex couples, for example. A
spokesperson confirmed the policy, and noted that the bank also
reimburses employees up to $8,000 for adopting a child.

Of the tech companies named in this story and contacted by
BuzzFeed News, Intel alone provided an executive to discuss its
fertility benefits. Spotify and Amazon did not return requests
for comment, and Google, Microsoft, and Wayfair declined to
comment. Apple declined to comment beyond a statement from 2014
that said in part, “We continue to expand our benefits for
women, with a new extended maternity leave policy, along with
cryopreservation and egg storage as part of our extensive
support for infertility treatments. … We want to empower women
at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for
loved ones and raise their families.”

View this image ›

FertilityIQ cofounder Deborah
Anderson-Bialis. Steve
Jennings / Getty Images for TechCrunch

ID: 9983124

Last year, Anderson-Bialis and his wife, Deborah, founded
FertilityIQ after they struggled to navigate fertility doctors
and clinics while conceiving their child. For this survey,
FertilityIQ polled more than 5,000 users, then honed in on
about 1,000, most of whom said their workplaces paid for their
treatments in the previous 18 months. Then they asked those
people, or their companies, to provide details about their
coverage.

However, employers were not always willing to talk, so
FertilityIQ was not able to confirm all coverage details with
them. Sometimes, to figure out a company’s reimbursement
policies, the team resorted to contacting the billing
departments of clinics where employees sought care.

“You imagine anyone on this planet wants to be seen as
female-friendly, family-embracing — all these things that
companies bend over backwards to prove to themselves and others
that they are,” said Anderson-Bialis, who says that
workplace-covered fertility services saw an uptick beginning
around 2013. “There’s probably no benefit that’s more
emblematic of that kind of gesture, and yet so few are really
comfortable talking about it to anyone outside their own
employees.”

Privately, he said, they still have concerns such as: “‘If we
widely advertise this to everybody, what does that invite? Does
that invite people applying for jobs and getting jobs because
they know this will be paid for?’ That can cost more than their
salary. At a lot of places, it probably does.”

While it’s unclear what kinds of returns on investment
companies are seeing, at least some women appreciate that their
bosses are picking up the costs. In FertilityIQ’s survey,
employees whose companies fully covered their fertility
treatments said they were more grateful, more loyal, and
inclined to stay longer at their workplaces than they would
have been had they not had the option.

“Maybe you always thought you’d be married with kids by age 30
— but here you are, you’re 31 and single still and you love
your job,” said the wife of the Apple employee who gave birth
last year. “Now you have the option of, ‘maybe you can freeze
your eggs and have a family in the future.’ What an awesome
gift, in my opinion.”



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