- Walmart associates enrolled in a company-sponsored, self-insured medical plan will now have access to fertility care through the retail giant’s partnership with Kindbody, a family-building provider for employers, Walmart announced Sept. 27. Fertility services include assessments and education, fertility preservation, genetic testing, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination, a media release said. The benefits are available to full- and part-time employees and their dependents.
- Kindbody will also be available to help eligible associates access Walmart’s surrogacy and adoption benefits, according to the release. These benefits include financial support of up to $10,000 annually, capped at a lifetime max of $20,000, per the corporation’s policy. Under the policy, birth mothers may receive up to 10 weeks of full paid leave. A new parent, regardless of gender, gets up to six weeks of protected paid time off. This includes becoming a parent through a birth, adoption or foster-care placement. For associates experiencing effects from undergoing treatments or who otherwise need related time off, Walmart offers a variety of options for qualifying medical, family or personal reasons, Josh Havens, director, global communications, told HR Dive in an email.
- Walmart’s new Center of Excellence for fertility opens Nov. 1. At that time, associates will have access to 30 Kindbody clinics across the U.S., Havens said. The expanded surrogacy and adoption support starts Jan. 1, 2023, Havens added. Walmart’s fertility services build on the company’s existing COE model, which provides coverage for certain heart, spine and joint surgeries and cancer treatment, the release stated.
By 2031, close to 45% of the U.S. labor force will be between the ages of 25 and 44, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That a large part of this workforce includes women of child-bearing age should make employers take notice, Tammy Sun, co-founder of the global fertility health and family-building platform Carrot, told Harvard Business Review in a March post.
A 2021 survey Carrot conducted with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association emphasizes why this is important: 88% of women of childbearing age who responded said they would consider changing jobs for fertility benefits, HR Dive previously reported. More than three-quarters (77%) said they would stay at their company longer if it offered fertility benefits.
RESOLVE’s CEO Barbara Collura pointed to another eye-opening reason employers should pay attention to such benefits. In the U.S., one in 8 heterosexual couples have trouble conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term, Collura explained in an op-ed to HR Dive. The number is much higher when considering single parents or same-sex couples. That makes infertility more common than diabetes (1 in 10) or asthma (1 in 13), she said.
Walmart decided to offer the expanded fertility care/family-building benefits after hearing from associates that this support was important to them, Havens explained. “The response has been incredible. Our partner began receiving calls from associates almost immediately after the announcement was made,” he said. The fertility care/family-building services adds to Walmart’s recently expanded doula benefits.
Findings by a 2021 Mercer survey confirm that Walmart is part of a trend by big employers recognizing the growing need for fertility and family-building benefits. The big box chain joins Amazon and other large companies in providing the benefits, which are being added, in part, to attract hourly and low-wage workers in a competitive market, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, Mercer “consistently found that fewer than a fourth of the larger employers covered in vitro fertilization (IVF), one of the most important fertility services,” researcher Erin Dowling wrote in a May 2021 blog. But that’s changing: In 2020, 42% of employers with 20,000 or more employees provided IVF coverage, a 6% increase from 2015, Mercer found. By comparison, in 2020, 27% of employers with 500 or more employees covered IVF treatments, a slight bump up from 24% in 2015.
Worker interest is also on the rise. “Use of RESOLVE’s Coverage at Work resources is high, and we are glad that employees are using these resources [to] advance conversations about coverage with their employers,” Andy Schwarz, RESOLVE’s director of public relations, pointed out via email to HR Dive.
There are persuasive reasons, besides retention, why employers should be offering the benefits, research shows. The money factor, for one. The vast majority (97%) of companies responding to the Mercer survey said that providing infertility coverage has not resulted in a significant increase in their medical plan costs. When employers offer family-building benefits, costs associated with high-risk pregnancies and babies born with complications decrease dramatically, RESOLVE’s Collura said.
The benefits also provide access to fertility treatments for those who don’t have insurance on their own or otherwise could not afford it. Treatments can cost-prohibitive. The ballpark price for IVF is $22,000, Carrot research found.
Fertility benefits are additionally seen as central to DEI objectives, Mercer said. LGBTQ couples and single parents can be shut out of coverage by insurance providers requiring a traditional diagnosis of infertility, Juli Insinger, Carrot co-founder and vice president of business development, previously told HR Dive. Thirty-five percent of the companies responding to the Mercer survey said they designed the benefits to be available to these groups and made that clear in their benefit communications.
Most companies (88%) place some kind of time limit on infertility treatment coverage, via a lifetime maximum benefit (used by 60%) or a limit on the number of IVF cycles (used by 13%), Mercer found.