A new strategic alliance in the employee benefit space between a top consultant and specialty provider spotlights the convergence of healthcare cost-containment strategies and talent management involving a highly specific workforce demographic.

Mercer will now provide employers and their employees with Progyny’s SMART fertility benefit product suite, which stands for Science and Member-Driven Assisted Reproductive Technology.

Apart from expanding access to fertility solutions and improving patient outcomes, the partnership seeks to significantly reduce high-risk maternity-related costs. It’s also seen as part of a two-pronged strategy to help elevate the Mercer brand, whose parent company presides over the industry’s largest healthcare brokerage.

Also see:These employers give moms and dads equal baby leave.

“As consultants, it is important to help our clients have the right benefit design as well as the right providers to deliver the benefits,” explains David Kaplan, M.D., leader of Mercer Health Innovation LABS. 

Fertility benefits, of course, will appeal to a limited group of employees and their families, though interest in this area is said to be growing. Six percent of married women in the U.S. ages 15 to 44, or 6.7 million women, are unable to get pregnant or carry a baby to term, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also estimates that the number of women in that same age group who have used infertility services is 7.4 million.

‘The best science’

Progyny’s services include a comprehensive national network of fertility clinics, quality and cost transparency, and personal concierge services delivered by Patient Care Advocates. Benefits include egg freezing, in vitro fertilization, non-IVF fertility treatments and medications, as well as access to genetic counselors, fertility nurses, psychologists and surrogacy counselors. In addition, the Progyny Patient Portal features more than 250,000 pages of fertility information.

Also see:Amazon expands parental leave benefits for employees.

The benefit could be seen as invaluable to employees who have struggled to start a family and driven in part by talent and retention-related issues, according to Kaplan. “Employers are committed to helping families have healthy families,” he says. “For some families it can be a more difficult path to achieve that aim. By providing our consultants with information about the best science in this rapidly evolving area and providing them a best-in-class platform like Progyny, we can offer our clients the best guidance.”

Karin Ajmani, president of healthcare services at Progyny, noted in an announcement of the partnership with Mercer that her company’s “benefit design coupled with support services takes the guess work out of this emotional and often costly journey.”

Shutan is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.

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