Major American retailer Walmart announced its employees will now have access to a nationwide network of fertility centers.
The company said the move was part of an expansion of family-building benefits.
Walmart associates and their dependents will be able to seek fertility-related healthcare, including invitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, fertility preservation and fertility assessments through Kindbody as part of its Center for Excellence. The fertility and family-building provider has thirty locations across the country and aims “to democratize care and to provide fertility coverage for all.”
“Walmart and other innovative employers are disrupting how employers pay for care by taking insurers out of the equation and contracting directly with leading provider groups such as Geisinger, the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Virginia Mason, and now – Kindbody,” the company said in a statement on Sept. 27. “Walmart and other leading employers are crafting bundled payment arrangements that cover the cost of an employee’s care from start to finish. They’re also picking up the tab for any necessary travel, lodging, and meals.”
“After spending the last dozen years in the fertility industry, what I’ve learned is that only three things matter in healthcare: patient experience, patient outcome and costs – and, that you must be in the provision of care to effect change,” wrote Gina Bartasi, an entrepreneur and CEO of Kindbody. “Insurance companies and care navigation firms who are incentivized to steer patients to the highest priced doctors do not have aligned incentives to reduce the costs of care. The only way to bring down the costs of care is to align goals between the patient, the provider and the employer.”
“Our partnership with Walmart signals that fertility benefits have joined medical, dental, and vision as standard workplace benefits for leading employers,” she added in a statement published by Walmart.
In addition to fertility-related care, Walmart associates will be able to work with Kindbody to pursue surrogacy or adoption. Walmart offers its employees and their dependents up to $20,000 of financial support to cover the cost of eligible expenses related to either option.
“Walmart benefits will continue to include enhanced maternity and parental leave for qualified full-time hourly and salaried associates that allows birth moms to receive up to 16 weeks of paid time off. New parents, including adoptive and foster parents, also receive six weeks paid parental leave to bond with a new child,” the company noted.
The retailer joins a group of major businesses in offering fertility and family-building benefits to their employees.
Software company Adobe will cover over 90% of the cost of fertility treatment, up to $60,000 for eligible employees as well as up to $25,000 for expenses related to surrogacy or adoption.
“Families are formed in many ways, and Adobe’s family and fertility benefits are designed to support our employees on their journey,” a spokesperson for the company told TheStreet.
Dating app Bumble partnered with the Maven Clinic to offer employees “personalized pregnancy, postpartum, back-to-work, fertility, and egg freezing support” including “discounts to partner fertility clinics” through the clinic’s family benefits program.
Fertility health care benefits are also offered by Coinbase, DoorDash, Google, Intel, Meta, and Zillow.
In August, The Cut reported on women who were taking jobs at an Amazon warehouse in order to qualify for the company’s fertility benefits – specifically hoping to be able to finance a round of IVF. Amazon will cover at least two full cycles of IVF. One cycle of the treatment can cost between $15,000 to $30,000 and pregnancy is not guaranteed.
The 14 women interviewed for the story included “a nursing assistant and a marine biologist, both of whom put their careers on hold for the coverage.”
In August, 24 Democrats in the House and Senate asked the Biden administration to increase the fertility treatments, including IVF, offered to federal employees through their health care coverage.
“The choice to build a family is a fundamental right for all Americans. People should not have to take on substantial medical debt to grow a family,” the lawmaker wrote in a letter to the US Office of Personnel Management. “Yet, despite the prevalence of infertility and diversity of family structures, the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program – our Nation’s largest employer-sponsored group health insurance program – currently only offers limited infertility treatment, and it is often prohibitively expensive.”
The global market for fertility services is rapidly growing — surging in value from about $24.5 billion in 2015 to $37.8 billion in 2020. Researchers predict the industry will surpass $161.8 billion by 2030 as growth — driven by “rising infertility rate, technological developments regarding fertility treatment, growing adoption of IVF services to aid in pregnancy, increasing government funding supporting emergence of novel IVF solutions, rising number of same sex couples, increase in number of fertility clinics, rise in disposable income and late parenthood” — continues.
The US birthrate has steadily declined for almost two decades, per ABC News.
The national total fertility rate, which measures the number of births the average American woman will have in her lifetime, was 1,663.5 for every 1,000 women in 2021. To maintain a steady replacement level, the country needs roughly 2,100 births for every 1,000 women.