Large Group Insurers to Cover IVF in 2020

In April 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo highlighted the Fiscal Year 2020 Enacted Budget which includes an expansion of coverage for in-vitro fertility services and medically appropriate fertility preservation. This coverage promotes safe and affordable reproductive health care while removing a costly barrier to family planning. While large-group insurers are required to offer the option, employers are not required to include it in the plans offered to employees.

According the National Conference of State Legislators, only 30% of states in the US require insurance providers to cover infertility treatments*. Of that, only five require them to cover in-vitro fertilization (IVF). In 2020, New York will join that list. Effective January 1, 2020, large-group insurance providers (those with over 100 employees) must cover up to three cycles of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and every policy including prescription-drug coverage must include FDA-approved drugs for use in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Additionally, large-group, small-group, and individual insurance providers must cover medically necessary fertility preservation services (that is, egg or sperm freezing) for those facing iatrogenic infertility, meaning fertility is compromised by a medical treatment such as chemotherapy, medications or surgeries.

Excluded from this mandate is anyone who is covered through a fully-insured, small-group plan (less than 101 employees) or an individual plan, and anyone insured through New York State of Health (New York’s Obamacare marketplace). The law also excludes people covered by Medicaid, federally-provided health insurance, federal employees, veterans and those covered by a self-funded employer plan.

IVF and fertility preservation services are costly. The process is not only financially taxing, it’s emotionally taxing, too. The average cost of one in-vitro fertilization cycle is over $12,000; and this doesn’t include the cost of medications, which can run up to $3,000 each. First attempts are not always successful so multiple cycles may be necessary. Historically, families have spent retirement savings, taken out loans, run up credit-card debt, asked family members for financial help, and increasingly looked to crowdfunding websites.  Adding up the financial, emotional and physical stress, it is understandable why New Yorker’s made IVF coverage a top priority in their lobbying efforts.

Thanks to the new mandate, 2.4 million New Yorkers will have access to IVF coverage, and more than 4 million will have access to fertility preservation before undergoing treatment for cancer or other medical treatments.

According to conversations with carriers, this new reproductive health coverage will increase the cost of employer-provided health insurance by1.5%. We suggest identifying the demand for fertility coverage amongst your employee population and reviewing your current benefits offerings to determine if adding IVF coverage to your plan would be beneficial.

*The information contained in this communication is not legal or tax advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal law change frequently, and knowledge of each person’s unique fact situation is always needed to determine how the law will apply.

Amplifying Your Corporate Culture Through Communication

Spotlight:  Supporting Cast

Creating a strong corporate culture has become a top initiative for many companies.  And often times, culture starts with communication.  From the very first day an employee starts their job and their onboarding experience, to employees getting to know their co-workers from across the company, delivering a strong internal message is critical for the success of employee engagement and your organization’s success.

Meet Supporting Cast, a SlateGroup technology service, that has built a platform to streamline the creation of internal podcasts.  They are on a mission to help you build a more engaging message for your employees through podcasts, a communication platform that speaks to your team.  Corporate culture is essentially your company’s brand and podcasts provide a secure and accessible way for you to enhance it while informing, educating and building morale for your employees.

Below are some important ways to use communication as a tool to amplify your culture and build your corporate voice:

  • New hire onboarding – Often times the way a new employee is onboarded is their first official communication from the company to help them become familiar with your company culture, norms and systems.
  • All-hands meetings – Whether weekly, monthly or less often, all-hands meetings provide a platform to catch up ALL employees on company progress and upcoming programs.
  • C-Suite messages – Connecting leadership with the overall organization conveys to everyone that they are part of the team and how their work fits into the broader company mission.
  • Skills training – As our previous posts have reflected learning and development is key to employee engagement and retention.  Communicating educational opportunities will not only empower employees but help them be better at their jobs.
  • Staff interviews – Whether your organization has a mentorship program, the “donut slackbot” to connect coworkers, or some other tool to build camaraderie, creating a path for employees to communicate with one another breaks down silos, fosters collaboration and lets colleagues know what other departments are working on. Interviews with key staff across the company will foster interdepartmental awareness and teamwork.
  • Employee sensitivity trainings – Informing employees of the company’s position on respect provides a safe space for them to consider peers’ perspectives and address concerns they may have in the workplace.

Most companies implement a multi-media internal communication strategy, be it a combination of email, social media (including slack), live meetings, webinars, interactive survey tools, learning management systems and more. Unfortunately many of the messages you attempt to send to your employees often go unheard, whether an email isn’t opened, a meeting is missed or an initiative is overlooked.

Podcasts present an enduring customizable platform that communicates with your staff in a place where they already spend time, podcast apps your employees are already using.  They streamline your communication by allowing you to personalize your message to select groups and measure engagement.

Supporting Cast is an employee communication podcast delivery platform that can help you launch or enhance your internal communication strategy:

  • Analytics – measure audience engagement, verify compliance and longer term evaluate impact on retention and employee satisfaction
  • Production support – creating a content strategy, sound message with cohesive technical support
  • Secure – admin tools, single sign-on integration, two factor authentication
  • Streamlined – designed to make it as simple as possible for employees to hear the message you want to communicate with them

To learn more about Supporting Cast, schedule a demo and see how their solution can assist your company with its internal communications strategy please Click Here.

Operating a Mission Driven Company

In this politically charged environment, many employees are on a mission to make a change and impact on society. These individuals are known as Employee Activists.

Employee activism can occur in a variety of ways. It can simply be colleagues initiating a conversation with on another, sharing an opinion or comment about ones company on social media, re-posting an opinion or comment on social media, or expressing an opinion at a company-wide meetings or intranet.  Taken a little further, it can also be signing a petition, encouraging others not to work for a particular employer, participating in a protest/march or quitting a job to let an employer know you don’t agree with their culture or beliefs.

In a study conducted by Weber Shandwick, in partnership with United Minds and KRC Research, it was found that almost four in 10 employees (38%) report that they have spoken up to support or criticize their employees’ actions over a controversial issue that affects society, with hopes of gaining the attention. This attention is focused on other employees, organizational leaders and the general public with the goal that their activism would influence their employers policies or actions. The demographics of this study were broken down as follows:  Millennials are most likely to be Employee Activists (48%), followed by Gen-Xers (33%) and Baby Boomers (27%).

Some causes seem like a no-brainer to support, such as workers and women rights, anti-bullying and protecting the climate. However, employers tread a fine line in supporting some of the extreme views of employees while balancing potentially differing opinions of shareholders, customers and other partnerships and alliances.  

Below are some tips to support the rights of your employees while remaining diplomatic:

  • Broadcast a clear corporate purpose and culture.  If you make your company’s belief system public, by default you help craft the message.  This transparency will enable employees to align with your goals instead of against them.
  • Provide recommended social media guidelines.  You don’t want to censor your employees so embrace their cause(s) with recommendations for best practices when engaging on social media with socially charged topics.
  • Give employees time to participate.  Whether it’s the creation of Employee Resource Groups to provide a platform for employees to have the voice(s) heard or designated PTO to support the causes that matter to them, let your employees know you believe in what matters to them.
  • Connect with employees passions and fears.  Providing a culture of empathy lets your employees know that although your position may not be exactly where they stand you are aware that the issues matter and that their opinion does too.  Consider creating surveys to get a pulse check on issues that employees are thinking about.
  • Be part of the solution.  Support the causes that align with your company’s values and be transparent about the ones that don’t.  Showing employees that you are willing to take a stand when appropriate will let them know your company has a voice when it matters.

Getting Ahead of the Holiday Mayhem

The holidays are supposed to be a whimsical and pleasant time, however, the reality is they can be quite stressful and worrisome for many.  From the extra expenses associated with gift giving to juggling family needs they often leave a foreboding feeling, rather than the supposed magical ones they are supposed to instill.  And this is not just in a personal setting, but professional one as well.  End of the year deadlines, budget setting, bonuses, there are many concerns that can overwhelm.

So, the first step…to be realistic!

As with anything, take each moment and compartmentalize to avoid the feeling of being inundated with responsibilities.

Below we provide some tips to getting through the holiday season while taking back control and creating your own magical time for the season.

Keep things as normal as possible – For some reason during vacations and holidays we have a tendency to let ourselves go, but there’s no rule that says we can’t keep our health routines in place when we’re relaxing.  For example – continue with your regular exercise (or if you don’t exercise, now’s the perfect time to fit it in your schedule), and maybe indulge with your eating but don’t let it all go.

Do something for others in need – Whether it’s donating a toy to a local organization supporting children or to your local Goodwill location, or donating your time at a local soup children, often when you help others it helps yourself too.

Reach out to others – It’s quite possible that friends and colleagues may also be feeling the stress of the holidays.  Simply sending a text letting others know you’re thinking of them will bring a smile to their face and their reply to yours.

Minimize sugar and alcohol intake – As mentioned earlier, the holidays seem like a time to indulge, however, sugar and alcohol can actually add to depression and holiday blues.  Try to moderate your intake of these potential evils. Remember healthy is happy.

Avoid New Year’s Resolutions – Although the start of the new year seems like a great time to make your resolutions, holiday pledges often wind up by the wayside.  Instead try to make daily changes in your life and set realistic goals for yourself.  Change takes time so embrace it and commit on your own schedule and you will find greater success.

Holiday Workplace Happenings & the Spirit of Inclusion

With the holiday season approaching, you may be thinking about your company holiday party and related festivities. Enter, the December Dilemma, the time of year where multiple holidays collide and can cause workplace misunderstandings or conflict. Whether you host a party outside of the office or you keep the celebrations in-house, the last thing your company wants is to have good intentions that instead end up isolating or upsetting your diverse employee groups.

Celebrate Inclusion:  Planning holiday parties and celebrations can be stressful and difficult. If you are involved in the planning process, remember to make them as inclusive as possible, and reevaluate any long-standing traditions.

It’s also a good idea to start new traditions, like acknowledging holidays that fall outside of December, sending fall or winter cards to clients and co-workers, or doing a charity project together.

Following are a few additional tips for maintaining an inclusive holiday spirit at your company:

  • Inclusive messaging: instead of religious affiliations to holidays like Christmas or Chanukah try using words like “holiday season” or “winter celebration”.
  • Inclusive activities: instead of hosting a “Secret Santa”, offer participating in a “Grab Bag”.
  • Inclusive Decor: the holiday season doesn’t have to mean decorating the office space or venue with every holiday symbol associated with various religions or cultures. If your workplace wants to decorate, consider decorating with neutral colored lights, snowflakes or floral bouquets.

The most important thing to remember is to maintain diversity and inclusion efforts during the holiday seasons so that all employees feel recognized and accepted.