Walmart will cover fertility treatments under insurance plan

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Walmart is partnering with a fertility startup to offer benefits under its insurance plan that will help its workers expand their families.

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is partnering with a fertility startup to offer benefits under its insurance plan that will help its employees expand their families.

The nation’s largest retailer and private employer said on Tuesday it is partnering with New York-based Kindbody to provide benefits such as in vitro fertilization as well as fertility testing regardless of gender, birth orientation, gender identity or marital status.

Walmart employees will have access to more than 30 fertility clinics and in vitro fertilization labs across the United States. Kindbody clinics will also be available to help eligible workers access Walmart surrogacy and adoption benefits.

The expanded offer, which begins Nov. 1, builds on Walmart’s so-called Center of Excellence model, which provides benefits and coverage for certain heart, spine and joint surgeries and cancer treatments, in partnership with health care providers and institutions, including the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Providing access to high-quality healthcare is very important to us, and our associates have told us that improving access to fertility, surrogacy and adoption support is a priority for them and their families,” said Kim Lupo, senior vice president. , Walmart Global Total Rewards

Walmart is joining other big employers like Amazon in helping employees adopt or cover things like fertility treatments. More companies are adding these benefits in part to attract and retain workers in a tight labor market.

But given its influence, Walmart’s increased perks should help further democratize fertility treatments, which can cost thousands of dollars.

According to Gina Bartasi, Founder and President of Kindbody, this “signals that fertility benefits have joined medical, dental and vision benefits as standard benefits for major employers”.

The announcement of expanded fertility offerings comes after Walmart announced in August that it was expanding its abortion coverage following a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a nationwide abortion right.

Competition has become especially tough for hourly or low-wage workers in the retail, hospitality or healthcare sectors, according to researchers at benefits consultant Mercer. In these areas, a small increase in pay or benefits can entice people to leave for another job.

“These benefits are a way to add value without necessarily increasing salary by a significant amount,” said Julie Campbell, senior consultant in Mercer’s health and benefits practice.

Adding benefits that help with family planning can also make a company more appealing to LGBTQ employees.

“The road to parenthood can be complex and expensive, and the journey isn’t the same for every family,” said Lisa Woods, vice president of employee benefits for Walmart.

Mercer’s annual employer survey tracked a big jump in companies offering a basic fertility benefit, assisting with in vitro fertilization, which involves creating embryos by mixing eggs and sperm in a laboratory box.

The consultant found that 36% of companies with 500 or more employees covered IVF treatments in 2021. This is an increase from 27% in 2020.

For years before, the percentage of companies offering the benefit typically hovered between 20% and 22%, said Beth Umland, director of health and benefits research at Mercer.

Relatively few employees may end up using company assistance to adopt or cover fertility treatments, but those benefits mean a lot to the people who use them, Umland noted.

“It makes you an employer of choice if you offer that benefit,” she said.

Walmart employees, their spouse or partner, and any dependent adult children enrolled in a Walmart-sponsored medical plan will each receive up to $20,000 in medical benefits for fertility treatments during their lifetime.

In the United States, a round of IVF can cost around $23,000 on average, according to FertilityIQ, which provides research on fertility treatments, doctors and clinics.

Walmart Inc. employs approximately 1.6 million people in the United States. The Betonville, Arkansas-based company could not immediately provide a number for those eligible for the new fertility benefit.

Walmart employees — salaried, full-time hourly, and full-time managers in store eyewear departments — will also receive up to $20,000 in lifetime reimbursement for eligible expenses for surrogacy and maternity services. adoption.

About 38% of companies with 500 or more employers offer or plan to provide financial assistance for adoptions next year, according to research by Mercer.

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