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Should employers foot the bill for IVF? Two thirds of Brits think so

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One round of IVF costs a sixth of the average household income (£31,400) – and families struggling to pay for it think their employers should foot the bill. Should they?

Families struggling to afford the costs of IVF should be able to look to their employer for financial support, according to over 60% of Brits, a survey has revealed. 

The new study from Apricity shows that despite the high demand for employer support, only 17% of (UK) employers currently offer such a benefit. 

To undergo IVF treatment in 2022 is approximately the amount of the UK average household income (£31,400), and the majority (eight in ten) consider stopping treatment midway through. Meanwhile, around 40% drop out completely before completing the recommended three cycles. 

Fertility is “underfunded”in the NHS

Waiting lists for fertility treatment are between one and two years through the NHS, and the treatment is a severely underfunded area, paying just  20% of treatments in some parts of the country. 

Patients are also selected via a postcode lottery system, meaning many are left hanging in the balance. The survey shows that 84% (of those surveyed) actually funded their treatment themselves. 

Fertility and IVF – a huge cost 

Cost of treatment puts huge financial strain on patients – in context, the average income of respondents was £31,400, while one cycle of IVF with medication costs upwards of £7,000 (often advertised at £5000 without medication), and at least three cycles are recommended for success. 

Over half (57%) of patients found they didn’t understand the true financial costs at stake before getting into treatment.

81% considered stopping while 39% only went through two of the three cycles needed for full treatment, with financial pressure being the top reason (32%).

Almost two thirds (61%) of respondents said they would expect their employer to cover these costs, either in full or part, and 82% said they would only consider working for an employer that offered fertility benefits if they were looking to do IVF again.

Stigma and “shame” around IVF 

Even in 2022, there remains a lot of stigma and shame surrounding fertility treatment. Almost half (47%) of survey respondents didn’t tell their friends or family about their IVF treatment, the biggest reason being shame and embarrassment (52%). 

Fertility treatment can have negative consequences for both romantic and personal relationships and 81% of patients in the UK considered quitting mid-treatment (3 cycles of IVF is considered a full treatment), and 80% of couples said it caused friction in their relationship.

Over a third (35%) said they felt they had lost control of their lives.

There is also a lot of fear around infertility itself. Despite one in six couples in the UK experiencing infertility, half (46%) waited over 12 months before seeing a doctor, with patients over 35 waiting longer than those under 35 due to general apprehension and lack of knowledge.

Looking to employers to “step up”

Founder and CEO of Apricity Caroline Noublanche commented: “With the private sector taking up the vast majority of the UK fertility market and the NHS under massive strain, more people are looking to their employers to step up and support them on their fertility journey both financially and with flexible working.

“This is currently much more common in the US, where 81% of the best workplaces are providing reimbursement for fertility treatments compared to just 17% already in place in the UK.

“We’re working to make the fertility journey as smooth and stress-free as possible, and have already partnered with some of the largest UK employers, insurers and employee benefit platforms including Axa PPP, Reward Gateway and Mercer Marsh, and we expect more to join us offering fertility benefits.

Uniquely, Apricity removes a lot of the disruption for patients and employers alike by significantly reducing the number of visits to the clinic.

“If more employers supported the process and more clinics used new technology solutions, we’d be able to collectively better manage the process and reduce the stigma.”

AI & fertility

Launched in the UK in 2019, Apricity combines fertility care with AI and technology to increase the chances of conception and outperform traditional clinics, while offering a smoother, more personalised patient experience. 

As the UK’s first virtual clinic with virtual and at-home treatment support services, the company is able to remove a lot of the disruption and stress factors in fertility treatment. Patients only need to visit the clinic twice per cycle (vs an average of 10 visits), a clear benefit to patients as well as their employers.

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