Because employers incur the high costs of pregnancy-related healthcare, it benefits you to ensure that your employees have the healthiest pregnancies possible. Although there are programs and services you can provide to employees to support their healthy pregnancies, ideally you’d be offering this support before conception. Almost half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended (45%), meaning your preconception benefits should be available to your entire employee population so that they can be prepared and educated before conceiving.
Why should preconception benefits matter? Aside from the personal benefit they provide to your employees’ health and wellbeing, your organization can save money by offering them. So what should you offer?
Wellness programs and tracking
Women who are trying to conceive or might conceive soon should be exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many women. The highest chronic disease risk factor or behavior of women aged 18-44 (preconception age) is being “overweight or obese,” and 52.8% of U.S. women falling into this category.
By providing wellness programs, nutrition and exercise information, gym memberships or reimbursement, and access to nutritionists or health coaches, you’re helping your employees get fit. You’re providing tools and resources to help your employees prepare their bodies for healthy conception and pregnancy. At the same time, you’re also providing vital benefits to help your employees lead healthier lives.
Chronic disease management
According to the CDC, an increasing number of women in the U.S. of reproductive age have chronic conditions. Chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, not only affect their overall health but also their future fertility, pregnancy, and birth outcomes. By providing your employees with chronic disease management programs to help them quit smoking or manage their diabetes, you’re setting them up for success. More of your employees will be able to start their families with pre-existing conditions in check, paving the way for healthy pregnancies and natural births.
Access to doctors
The health of a couple before they conceive a child is important for helping them conceive and for helping them have the healthiest pregnancy possible. Your employees should be seeing a doctor for regular checkups, including dental checkups, as well as when they’re ill. This ensures your employees are staying or getting healthy and staying up to date on all necessary medicines, vaccines, vitamins, and shots. Provide health plans with manageable co-pays, alternative care solutions such as Teladoc, or concierge same-day doctors such as One Medical.
Natural conception help
When your employees are ready to start their families, provide fertility support. While you may actually already offer infertility assisted reproductive technology (ART) like IVF and IUI, you should also provide fertility support. What does this mean? Offer options to help your employees conceive naturally before trying ART or IUI. Women who conceive through ART are at a higher risk of preterm birth and delivering low-birth weight babies due to the higher probability of conceiving multiples. For some women, these high-risk pregnancies can be avoided through natural conception.
Programs such as Ovia Health provide ovulation and menstruation tracking, personalized conception information, and in-app coaching to help your employees conceive naturally. In an Ovia Health study, 30% of women who identified as clinically infertile conceived naturally using Ovia Fertility. If you could help 30% of your infertile employees conceive naturally, wouldn’t you? You’re helping them conceive naturally and have a healthier pregnancies while saving your organization the costs of a high-risk pregnancy.
Where are these cost savings actually coming from? Pregnancy costs are usually directly related to the cost of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Women who receive preconception benefits (e.g. have a nutrition-rich diet, manage chronic conditions, exercise regularly) have a reduced rate of births that result in NICU stays. Additionally, women who conceive naturally without ART can save your organization IVF or IUI costs, depending on the set of benefits you offer.