KANSAS CITY, Mo. — About one in eight Americans struggle with infertility.
More companies, both in the metro and nationwide, are adding and expanding fertility benefits for employees because of high demand.
"I think we've been extremely busy because so many couples have put off trying to get pregnant and now time is a big factor. Fortunately, we can help most of those couples and be able to help them have children and preferably one at a time," Dr. Dan Gehlbach, a reproductive endocrinologist at Midwest Reproductive Center said.
Fertility care, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI), have advanced over the last several years.
"In vitro fertilization has probably advanced the most during this time." Gehlbach said.
The insurance benefits have also advanced.
"It might be IUI or it might be jumping right into IVF for you. And we include everything that might be needed to enhance your chances of becoming pregnant with a viable pregnancy," Arielle Bogorad, Senior Director of Worldwide Benefit Design for Cerner said.
Cerner rolled out its fertility benefits in 2017 because more and more employees were asking for them. The company expanded the benefits in 2019 into a bundled model.
The benefits at Cerner, and many other companies nationwide, come in the form of SmartCyles.
During a cycle, the person is able to choose which treatment they want to pursue. For example, an employee could do four IUI's in one cycle, or they could do an IVF freeze all and an embryo transfer.
Bogorad said since the company implemented the benefits, it has resulted in more than 100 pregnancies.
Since 2016, the number employers offering fertility benefits has increased 10 percent.
"Because most benefit plans have a gap in fertility coverage, you see impacts on well-being. Impacts on physical well-being, emotional well-being and financial well-being," Bogorad said.
She said she's seen some employees take out a second mortgage to afford the expensive IVF and IUI cycles.
One cycle of IVF costs around $25,000, and many people have to do more than one to become pregnant.
Many employers offer a variety of coverage. Some offer $20,000 or $100,000. Some offer unlimited IVF or IUI cycles, and some include Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening.
"It helps them so much with just being able to choose the type of treatment best for them and not have cost be the driving concern," Gehlbach said.
According to FertilityIQ, IVF cycles increased 70 percent from 2005 to 2015. By 2020, the number is expected to top 400,000 cycles.
The site says the tech industry offers the best fertility benefits.