Fertility-benefits coverage is limited, outdated in Canada: report

Only five per cent of Canadian employers provide coverage for both fertility drugs and related costs such as in-vitro fertilization procedures and testing, according to a new report commissioned by Conceivable Dreams and Fertility Matters Canada.

It found more than 85 per cent of benefit plans that covered fertility-related issues had lifetime maximums in place for fertility drugs, ranging from $2,400 to $18,000 with a median of $3,250 per lifetime. In addition, more than one in five employers (21 per cent) had annual maximums in place, ranging from $600 to $2,000 with a median of $1,150 per year.

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In Canada, the average cost of one round of IVF is approximately $20,000 and surrogacy costs upwards of $80,000, according to a press release, which also noted limited public funding for IVF is only available in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

The current fertility benefits offerings don’t reflect the diversity of Canadian families, said Carolynn Dubé, executive director of Fertility Matters Canada, in the release. “Single parents and non-heteronormative individuals and couples rely on family building options such as IVF, surrogacy, gamete donation or adoption. Family building has changed. We recognize that many employers don’t understand what that looks like for countless Canadians. We want to educate them so they can provide better benefits to their employees.”

The report also cited a survey that found U.S. employees who had their IVF covered were more likely to remain in their job for a longer period (62 per cent), were more willing to overlook shortcomings of their employer (53 per cent) and were more likely to work harder (22 per cent). It also included findings from a U.K. survey on the perceived stigma associated with fertility challenges, which found many women declined to disclose fertility treatments to their employer out of fear they wouldn’t be taken seriously (50 per cent) and concerns about negative effects on their career prospects (40 per cent).

Read: Fertility benefits on the rise as employers look at needs of diverse employee base