Episode 155: #NIAW: The Catalyst to Bringing Fertility and Family Building Benefits to Her Employer
It’s National Infertility Awareness Week and this year we have one central theme – one we discuss frequently on this podcast – the importance and need for employer-sponsored fertility and family building benefits. We’ve heard from previous guests about how to advocate for coverage from within an organization, the view point from a benefits consultant on why it’s important, and today’s guest sheds light on what it was like to find a family building benefit while being a patient herself.
In this episode we hear how Ashley S. went through her own infertility struggle that led to a diagnosis of PCOS and multiple prescriptions of Clomid. It also led her to realize that she could play a role in bringing family building benefits to a company that didn’t previously have them. Ashely advocated for a benefit, vetted through all the different options in the market, and realized that Progyny’s benefit plan design could meet the needs of her organization, including herself.
Guest: Ashley S., Progyny Member
Host: Dan Bulger, Progyny
For more information, visit Progyny’s Podcast page and Progyny’s Education page for more resources. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, @ThisisInfertilityPodcast and use the #ThisisInfertility. Have a question, comment, or want to share your story? Email us at email@example.com.
Here are some highlights from this episode:
00:58 – 08:41
Ashley S.: So, six months or so passed and I still wasn’t pregnant. And obviously, you know, each month that passes that you aren’t pregnant you’ve experienced the full gambit of emotion, disappointment, and that was such a weight on me. I was diagnosed with PCOS, which came as a bit of a shock. My husband did all the testing himself and he was totally fine. Thankfully, I had a really supportive partner going through that because it is such a weight on you. My doctor was able to prescribe me a medicine called Clomid, which forces your body to ovulate.
Dan Bulger: The upside of taking Clomid to achieve pregnancy is that it’s significantly simpler and cheaper than something like IUI or IVF. The downside is that it comes with significantly low success rates.
Ashley S.: So, it was December, the last cycle that I could take it. And by that point, I had known that Progyny was coming. So, we finalized the plans in September, for January 1st, 2022, effective date. And we were actually able to call into the patient care advocacy line starting in November.
I had my in-person consultation with Dr. Chang, and she did all of the bloodwork. She did the initial ultrasound. And she had actually wanted me to run some more tests. I think I was one day late on my cycle. And so, at that point, I’d stopped taking pregnancy tests, because I just assumed that it would never happen. So, I got I got a call later that day from the clinic. She said, “Well, you’re very obviously pregnant. Four weeks pregnant.” And I didn’t believe her at first, because I said, “There’s no way.” And then I started crying. And I brought my husband in and we took a pregnancy test. And it was very, very emotional. Such a blessing, that Progyny was able to give me that news, especially after trying for, you know, a year and a half and not being able to get pregnant.
Weeding Through Benefits
09:10 – 12:26
Dan Bulger: It worked, it took six rounds of Clomid, but that last round worked, and Ashley is pregnant and due in September, so she got to sign up for Progyny and had the chance to experience some of the process, meet her PCA and all that. But she was already familiar with the Progyny benefit and how it can help as she played a role in her employer selecting to add Progyny to begin with.
Ashley S.: That is why I was able to kind of get the conversation started and wanting to implement fertility benefits because it was such a personal journey that I was going through. And my boss at the time was very familiar with my struggles and very supportive. And so, when we were looking to incorporate more inclusive benefits into our plan year, she encouraged me to reach out and research different companies.
What stood out to me about Progyny was that they took out the financial consideration for employees out of the picture. So, a lot of the other vendors that I looked at provided a set dollar amount, whether that was 15, 20, 25 thousand dollars and, you know, once an employee had exhausted that amount, they were left out in the dust, you know, especially if they didn’t have a successful IVF transfer the first time. That didn’t sit right with me because I wanted employees to really have that burden just fully lifted off of them and not have to worry about the financial aspect. I didn’t feel like that was fair. So, when researching Progyny, the account management team was superb and amazing and flawless at what they do.
Advocating for The Right Benefit
13:17 – 18:43
Dan Bulger: Most employers who add coverage like this do so because an employee asked for it. That being said, it’s tough. People don’t always want to walk around at work talking about their own personal struggle with infertility.
Ashley S.: It is very much still, you know, a quiet journey that people go through, it’s still not talked about very much it’s very, it still has a bit of a taboo attached to it, because people just don’t talk about it. And so, it can be a very lonely and isolating journey.
So many positive things have come from offering Progyny you know, whether it’s couples who are struggling to conceive, whether that’s their IVF journey, or even our LGBTQ+ employees who want to start a family or women who are not ready to have children and want to freeze their eggs, giving them that opportunity to focus on their careers for the moment and evaluate that at a later date when it’s more feasible for their for what’s going on at the time.
Dan Bulger: We asked Ashley, in what ways Progyny makes things easier for those who need it.
Ashley S.: They really take the hard work out of the equation for employees. So, I remember what I called into the patient care advocate line, I was given an entire list of available clinics and doctors. In the process of conducting benefits surveys, it is one of our more popular benefits, even though maybe a small percentage of the employee population may actually take advantage of the benefit, just knowing that we offer it in general is a huge plus.
I would encourage those who have the opportunity to advocate for coverage to speak to employees who are trying to conceive and to human resources. So, whether that’s through employee resource groups, or community groups, and getting that topic at the forefront of those who have the ability to make those decisions in front of their minds and get that plant that seed planted as early as possible. So, for the company to be able to offer that benefit, it’s life changing, and allows employees to have that flexibility and option to start a family when they otherwise might not be able to.
Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the past ten plus years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he has interviewed numerous doctors, patients and other experts in the world of fertility. He’s also the producer for this podcast, This is Infertility and the producer behind the Progyny YouTube Channel which features interviews with dozens of the nation’s leading fertility specialists. 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.
She brings 12+ years of Human Resources, Benefits & Leaves of Absence experience to her current company. Prior, Ashley spent the majority of her HR career in the Technology, Media & Government Industries. As an HR professional, Ashley has demonstrated skills in Benefits Administration and Strategy, Leaves of Absence, 401k Management, Performance Management & HR Analytics. Ashley carries a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Affairs from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Currently residing in Los Angeles, in her spare time, Ashley enjoys boating, learning new languages, volunteering with animal rescues, plotting her next big travel adventure, and spending time with her husband and nine-month-old German Shepherd, Gunther.