Episode 103: Fighting for Fertility Coverage: Bringing Benefits to An Employer
It’s National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), and Progyny is hosting a six-part series of back-to-back episodes featuring several experts who are fighting for fertility coverage. Our goal is to educate others on how they can advocate for themselves and ask for the support that’s needed from their employer or state to build the family of their dreams.
This is the last episode of the series, and it’s all about advocating for yourself. Today we hear from Sarah Barnes; she realized early on her employer didn’t provide coverage for fertility treatment. She first reached out to HR and asked, ‘why don’t you offer fertility coverage?’ It turns out they weren’t even aware this was something employees wanted in their plans. So, Sarah consistently reached out to HR, spoke to colleagues, gathered informative data, and accumulated over 100 signatures to show that this was a benefit that employees needed.
Whether you are currently looking for fertility coverage or know someone who is, or you’re just here to learn, this episode will show you what the power of support, persistence, and advocacy can do for any organization.
Guest: Sarah Barnes, Integrated Marketing at ALSAC
Host: Dan Bulger
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Here are some highlights from this episode:
Not the Only One to Experience Infertility:
Sarah Barnes: I was working to build a group of advocates within the organization, just sharing that I was having conversations with HR and would appreciate if they could lend their voices as well. Initially I just reached out to people who I knew were also going through infertility, so a really small handful of people. They passed my email along to others that they knew were going through infertility. We have a pretty large organization and, as you know, infertility is so common. I started building a list of people who were in support of this coverage and then I expanded my outreach to people that I worked closely with, or just others within the organization that I considered my friends. I shared my story with them, most of them were aware, but some of them were not. And I just mentioned the advocacy that I was doing to really push for fertility coverage. And every time I would email a group of people, that email would inevitably get forwarded. At some point, it was even sent out to an entire department. I would get responses from people that I emailed, but also random people I’d never met within the organization. They had heard, or received an email, from someone who passed it along and mentioned what I was doing. The list just continued to grow and with each message that I sent out.
Sarah Barnes: And I knew by this point that the organization was likely in the season of evaluating benefits, which would have been the Fall of 2020. So, about a year after my initial email to HR. By this time, we had built a list of over 100 people that were in favor of coverage. And about a third of those people have experienced infertility themselves. So, you know, I just kept asking all of those advocates to email HR, please email your leadership and our C-suite to voice your support. And then my big push, my Hail Mary was an email that I sent directly to our CEO, just boldly asking that he approve fertility coverage. And I was able to cosign that email with those over 100 advocates, my colleagues, to show this is something that of course people like me who experience infertility are in support of. We had the remaining two thirds of people that have not experienced infertility, but this was a change in our coverage that they support.
Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the last six years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he as interviewed numerous doctors, patients and other experts in the world of fertility. He’s also the producer for this podcast, This is Infertility. On a personal note Dan’s parents started fostering kids when he was four years old, and he considers himself a proud older brother to over 100 foster children.
Sarah works in Marketing at ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is also an active member of Tennessee Fertility Advocates, promoting family-friendly legislation and fertility coverage in the state of TN. Sarah lives in Memphis with her husband Beck and their dog Winston. She is “Auntie Rah” to 11 (soon to be 12!) nieces and nephews and enjoys spoiling them in her free time. Sarah and Beck love traveling, exploring the outdoors and attending as many concerts and sporting events as they can.
Music From This Episode:
Artist: Alpha Hydrae
Track: Keratine rust and a clear soul
Artist: Andy G Cohen
Track: A Perceptible Shift
Artist: Rest You Sleeping Giant
Track: Jazzmasters and Delay Pedals
Artist: Steve Combs
Track: A Vital Piece of Music for All Your Soundtrack Needs
Track: Dawn II