An estimated 3 million LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. have expressed an interest in becoming parents, and 63% of LGBTQ+ people are planning families, according to a 2020 report by the Family Equality Council. Yet, most traditional insurance companies only cover people with a medical infertility diagnosis.
The definition of infertility is failure to conceive after one year of regular intercourse without contraception—or—the inability of a woman to carry a pregnancy to a live birth. In most cases, same-sex couples interested in starting families won’t be covered by insurance since they don’t meet this narrow definition of infertility.
There are unique challenges LGBTQ+ individuals or couples may face in their journey to becoming parents. Currently, 20 states have passed fertility insurance coverage laws of some kind, but nearly half of those states do not cover IVF or egg freezing. This can be devasting for individuals or couples who have dreamed of starting a family, regardless of what the family looks like.
The LGBTQ+ community can face societal, cultural, and legal barriers when starting a family—from financial obstacles to bias, discrimination, and lack of social support. There’s still a long way to go when it comes to inclusivity and equality, but our world has made progress in providing more significant support to LGBTQ+ families.
Advancements in Fertility Services
When it comes to fertility for LGBTQ+ individuals or couples, advancements in reproductive technologies and assisted reproductive techniques have made it easier to start a family. There are various fertility treatment options to help people fulfill their dreams of becoming parents.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE MOST-UTILIZED FERTILITY TREATMENT OPTIONS:
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): When people think of infertility, IVF often comes to mind. IVF is a medical procedure in which an egg is fertilized by sperm (or donor sperm) in a laboratory and then transferred to the uterus of the individual carrying the fetus—whether that be the intended parent or a gestational carrier. One complete cycle of IVF takes about three weeks. Sometimes the steps are split into different parts, making the process take longer. The average cost for one cycle can range from $13,500 to over $21,000.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI): With this method, doctors insert sperm inside the uterus. Unlike IVF, this process occurs internally and has minimal discomfort. As a result, IUI is less expensive than other treatments and costs about $300-$1000 without insurance. Donor Insemination (DI): This method uses donor sperm via IUI or IVF to inseminate the individual carrying the pregnancy.
- Egg or Sperm Donation: When one or both individuals in a couple cannot produce viable eggs or sperm, they may choose to use donated eggs or sperm.
- Surrogacy or Gestational Carrier Services: There are no federal laws regulating surrogacy in the U.S. The laws vary by state and country. Surrogacy involves a gestational carrier who becomes pregnant for the intended parents. It’s a contractual legal agreement between the intended parents and the surrogate or gestational carrier. This process typically uses donor sperm and egg or the sperm and egg of the intended parent(s). Costs can vary from $50,000 upwards of $250,000.
- Adoption or Foster Care: LGBTQ+ individuals and couples may opt to expand their families through adoption or foster care. These processes vary based on local laws and regulations.
- Fertility Care Navigation and Case Management: With the varying laws, costs, and medical procedures to select from, there has been an uptick in companies that provide care navigation and case management services. These services help provide individuals and couples the best path to success, with some providing concierge-level care that manages every detail on their journey to parenthood.
- Fertility Video Consultations: When first planning to start a family, consulting with a leading expert can help set individuals and couples up for success and provide them with the best course for their circumstances.
Offering fertility benefits is one possible way companies can significantly impact an employee’s life and show a real commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Due to the varying state and country laws, high costs, and lack of insurance coverage for assisted reproductive technology, companies are taking it upon themselves to step up and support their employees. And the timing isn’t accidental.
Fertility Benefits for All
According to The National Infertility Association, 77% of employees would stay at their company for fertility benefits—and 88% would consider changing jobs to access them. FertilityIQ’s Family Building Workplace Index found that 61% of employees who received fertility coverage said they felt more loyal and committed to their employer. In addition, 73% of employees were more grateful, and 53% stayed longer.
Fertility benefits are expanding. A 2021 study from Mercer found that 42% of large companies with 20,000 or more employees covered IVF in 2020, compared to 36% in 2015. For those with 500 or more workers, 27% covered IVF, an increase from six years prior, while 19% covered egg freezing, up from 6% in 2015.
Employers providing benefits help with the cost of these services, which can make a lasting impact on their employee’s life. That said, most fertility benefits companies also work directly with individuals on a self-pay basis.
Engaging with a fertility benefits company can alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with navigating the journey. That’s a real bonus because the process can be taxing and overwhelming, causing everything from depression to anxiety. Working with a case manager means you have a patient advocate on your side guiding you through the various options and paths that best fit your needs and circumstances.
Every year, June is recognized as Pride Month—a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and fight for rights. As an organization, we are doing our part to support our clients, partners, friends, and loved ones with Fertility Services for All.
About Prodigy Fertility by MORE Health
MORE Health is a global digital health company in California’s Silicon Valley. Since incorporating in 2013, MORE Health has helped patients on six continents. It continues its mission to provide clients and their members with access to the best medical minds in the world when they need it most—when facing a serious life-changing illness. Prodigy Fertility by MORE Health provides expert medical opinions for infertility and reproductive health, fertility video consultations, and fertility care navigation for services that include IVF, surrogacy, and transgender healthcare. For more information, please visit morehealth.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.