Tuesday, January 17, 2023 by Jo Clifton

Including fertility treatment in the city’s employee insurance plan “would have a significant ongoing fiscal impact” on the benefit plan, according to a memo from interim Human Resources Director Rebecca Kennedy (who took over as department head in late December when HR boss Joya Hayes went on leave).

Kennedy said Blue Cross Blue Shield, the city’s insurance provider, estimates that including benefits such as “in vitro fertilization, cryopreservation, and (additional) support for adoption, foster care and kinship placement services” would cost about $1 million. year. The city is already projecting large price increases for employee insurance in 2024, according to the memo.

The memo was written in response to a resolution passed by the City Council on May 19 directing the city manager to “study and report on the inclusion of family-building supports, such as fertility and adoption and child assistance.” reception”. Former Mayor Steve Adler and Councilmembers Vanessa Fuentes, Chito Vela and Kathie Tovo sponsored the resolution.

The resolution directed staff to amend the city’s legislative agenda to include support for the Infertility Care and Treatment Access Act, a federal bill introduced by two Democratic lawmakers, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and US Representative Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut. The bill would require insurance companies to provide coverage for certain infertility treatments, though it seems unlikely to go much further given the current composition of the House of Representatives.

According to a Booker press release, “Only 27 percent of large employers and 14 percent of small employers provide insurance coverage for IVF. For those who have the resources and decide to pay out of pocket for infertility treatment, the costs can easily exceed $10,000.”

The memo states that “fertility services are not typically covered or offered by referral entities,” which include large cities and counties throughout the state. Of the 14 entities surveyed, seven offer some level of coverage, two of them in Texas, El Paso and Harris County. “None of the entities surveyed fully cover all services,” Kennedy wrote.

The City of Austin already offers fertility testing and counseling and paid parental leave to families, including adoptive and/or foster families.

As Kennedy confirmed via email, “The City of Austin currently offers paid parental leave, up to six weeks, for foster care or adoption. Employees are also eligible for the City’s Child Care Assistance Program and have access to the same benefits offered to all employees, such as Family Medical Leave, Employee Assistance Program, etc.

Acknowledging that the price tag might not be a complete answer for council members seeking to have the city provide funding for fertility services, Kennedy added in his memo: “If instructions were provided to include these services, the following are offered: Coverage options with less fiscal impact to the health plan: 1) Lifetime maximum for members where the City offers lifetime fertility benefits coverage of $20,000; 2) cover only diagnosis and basic infertility treatments; coinsurance applies after insemination deductible; fertility drugs are excluded.”

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