By Valarie K. Blake and Elizabeth Y. McCuskey
In vitro fertilization (IVF), like most medical care in the U.S., costs far more than most people can afford out-of-pocket: over $12,500 per cycle, with multiple cycles typically required. But, unlike most other expensive medical care, IVF rarely has insurance coverage to defray the cost.
In 2020, only 27% of employers with 500+ employees and 42% of employers with 20,000+ employees covered IVF in their employer plans. Companies like Starbucks and Amazon know this and use it to draw in employees at low (or essentially neutral) wages.
Recent reports reveal women working second shifts for these corporations solely to qualify for employer health benefits that cover infertility treatments. Starbucks, for example, covers IVF for employees who work 240 hours over three months, or roughly 20 hours per week. Frequently, in these low-wage positions, workers earn just enough to pay for their health insurance premiums and sometimes the associated cost-sharing requirements.
How did we get to a place where women must work an “infertility shift” beyond their full-time jobs to access medical care?