For years, fertility and family-building benefits were something reserved for the wealthiest members of the population.
Shilpa Patel, chief business and legal officer with Kindbody, says the company is working to change that.
“With fertility and family-building services generally limited to the top 1% of the population, the majority can’t afford it,” Patel says. “From day one, we knew that to improve access, we needed to drive down costs.”
Kindbody is the only fertility benefit solution that provides affordable, direct-to-consumer care without a middleman. The company controls costs and outcomes by contracting directly with employers and providing care.
The company operates more than 30 clinics across the country, providing “everything from IVF, egg freezing, and intrauterine insemination (IUI) services, to supporting surrogacy donor and adoption services.”
Over the past two decades, Patel says employers have started to see the value of offering these benefits to their employees. As a result, Kindbody is experiencing a surge in demand.
Technology for the Win
One of the key differentiators for Kindbody is its investment in technology. The company has built a specialized fertility EMR system that it uses to maximize clinical providers’ time while reducing administrative time.
“We’re the only fertility clinic in the country offering online appointment scheduling,” Patel says. “It saves time and money because we don’t have front desk staff on the phone scheduling appointments all the time.”
The company’s technology also helps improve patient experiences by providing contextualized information at their fingertips.
“They can follow their journey through the family-building process and chat with their care team,” Patel says. “There’s a host of educational content, a suite of prenatal and postpartum services, and telehealth supporting services such as specialized mental health services focused on infertility issues, and postpartum nutrition.”
A Strategic Investment
In many ways, the discourse on fertility and family-building has changed over the past five years. Back then, Patel says, these items were “not as openly discussed.”
Now, employers are seeking out companies like Kindbody because employees are asking for support in these areas.
“While these benefits have been table stakes for quite some time in the tech industry, they are becoming more prominent in the auto industry and industries that you don’t expect to adopt new, progressive benefits,” she says. “Employees are asking for it, and they’re not afraid to ask for it.”
When the pandemic arrived, Kindbody expected slower growth. Instead, Patel says the company experienced a boom in business.
“Fertility and family-building benefits were still top of mind for employers, coming from the employees asking for them,” Patel explains. “Employers also focused on their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, ensuring that if they already offered a fertility benefit, it was not unintentionally excluding same-sex couples and single parents by choice.”
Fertility and family-building benefits have become retention and recruitment tools, Patel says. Employees want to know that their employer is investing in them and cares about their well-being, especially when starting or growing a family.
A Life-Changing Difference
This period of incredible growth is seeing Kindbody working with a lot of household names.
Kindbody recently became Walmart’s exclusive fertility benefit administrator and provider. The retail chain even created a travel program for its employees to travel to Kindbody clinics for care.
“When they announced the benefit, they received resoundingly positive feedback from their employees, particularly those who otherwise would never have been able to afford an IVF cycle,” Patel says. “It’s rewarding for us at Kindbody to make a difference in people’s lives, and I think it’s similarly rewarding for employers.”
Infertility, surrogacy, adoption, and associated services are expensive, but employers understand the value of offering these benefits.
“Over the next few years, we think more employers will add coverage and it will become—rather than a nice-to-have benefit—a need-to-have benefit,” Patel says.
That was certainly the case for Medtronic, which added Kindbody to its benefits offering recently.
“I want to see every single employee who wants to, to be able to grow their family,” said Denise King, VP of global benefits and payroll for Medtronic, a Kindbody enterprise customer.
Medtronic’s investment in Kindbody has already paid off, King says.
A single Medtronic employee didn’t want to wait to start a family and was impressed by Medtronic’s benefit.
“There is surrogacy, adoption, LGBTQ+ support. It’s just so incredible and forward thinking to help in this way,” the employee said. “I’ve never had this kind of support at previous companies.”
Supporting Every Journey
Patel says employees appreciate a benefit that considers their unique fertility journeys, though she acknowledges that adding a carved-out fertility benefit can be cost-prohibitive for some employers. Thankfully, she says, employers can offer help without footing the entire bill.
“The employer can subsidize a dollar amount, let’s say $5,000,” she says. “That doesn’t cover the complete cost of care, but it does provide some coverage. And then Kindbody offers a discounted price to the employee so that they’re in a better position to pay for it.”
Patel believes prices will come down in the next five years or so, noting that there’s currently high demand yet relatively low supply. She says 45 fertility specialists graduate from fellowship annually, and many fertility clinics deal with long waiting lists.
“They are not seeing as many patients as they potentially could, which artificially inflates prices,” she says. “Though all fertility clinics use the same standardized protocols with similar outcomes, cash pricing varies widely from about $15,000 to $30,000 per IVF cycle. We expect that pricing discrepancy to tighten.”
As prices come down, it’s natural that more employers will begin to adjust their benefits to address fertility and family-building. By meeting the growing demand from employees, companies can create a sense of loyalty and appreciation.
“I encourage employers to listen to their employees,” Patel says. “This is a meaningful benefit that truly impacts people’s lives and generates a lot of goodwill for a company that offers coverage.”