Episode 60 Transcript

Ep 60 Transcript | Carrot Fertility: Employer Provider Benefits with Brooke Bartholomay Quinn

Brooke Quinn
At Carrot, we work directly with employers to offer fertility and family forming benefits to their employees. And what that really means is that we’re partnering directly with those customers to help them customize a fertility benefit that provides financial, medical and emotional support.

Intro
Whoever thought making a baby could be so hard? Luckily, the fertility journey isn’t meant to be traveled alone. Eloise Drane has helped hundreds of people build and grow their families over the last 15 years, and she’s ready to share insider knowledge and expertise with you. So grab a seat and let’s talk fertility and alternative family building in the fertility cafe.

Eloise Drane
Hello, and welcome to today’s episode of fertility cafe, I’m your host Eloise Drane. Fertility care is ever-evolving. The inclusion of employee benefits that offer fertility care and family building support such as adoption and surrogacy is a necessary topic and one we’re discussing in-depth today. It’s important for both employers and employees to understand the advantages and costs of including fertility care and benefits packages. We want to encourage employees to ask about their fertility care eligibility and want to encourage employers to include this needed service into their benefits packages. Our guest today will share how an employer can provide a solid fertility plan to ensure their employees receive the financial support they need to build their families and what employees should look for in a quality fertility plan.

Today, I’m excited to speak to our final guest of season three, Brooke Quinn of Carrot Fertility. Brooke Quinn is Senior Vice President of customer service at Carrot Fertility, the leading global fertility benefits provider for employers. As Senior Vice President of customer success, Brooke ensures the engagement, success, retention, and growth of Carrots more than 250 customers in more than 60 countries. Brooke is a trusted advisor and executive strategy leader with deep expertise in operational management, customer success and retention, and sales strategy and execution. Brooke is a passionate champion of women and leadership. As a current member of the Board of Directors for Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, she’s active in the promotion of female leadership and ongoing fundraising efforts in support of the mission. She serves as the event chair for Inspiring Women of Iowa an event recognizing women of courage, confidence, and character. Additionally, Brooke serves as the advisory board for Salto Women a collective for the next generation of female leaders. Carrot Fertility, the leading global fertility benefits provider for employers provides companies with a personalized financial fertility plan for their employee’s carrot fertility, the leading global fertility benefits provider for employers provides companies with a personalized financial fertility plan for their employees.

Carrot recognizes these changes and is working to meet the demands by helping leading technology and finance companies deliver customizable, affordable fertility benefits to their employees. Employees then can engage with a personalized care team for coaching and caring. And I’m excited to share that family inceptions is now a Carrot partner. Thank you so much for joining me today, Brooke. I did share a quick synopsis of you. But I’d love to have you share a bit about yourself.

Brooke Quinn
Thank you so much, Eloise, I appreciate the intro and the bio. I think one of the pieces that are really important is sort of my decision in genesis to join Carrot. And it really was twofold. Number one, I was incredibly excited about the opportunity to join a mission-driven organization and have an opportunity to impact people’s lives every day. I think the second reason, you know, I spent 25 years really focused on benefits and SAS technology. And I was really intrigued with the growth stage of Carrot today. And really felt that my experience could lend well to helping the organization continue on the growth trajectory and continue to help them scale. So the opportunity has just so many amazing positives and I was so incredibly thrilled to be able to join the team and thrilled equally to be with you today.

Eloise Drane
Well thank you I appreciate that even though I know that my listeners can probably tell there’s something going on with my voice. I just have this I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is, it’ll go away, hopefully. But going into it and I think that Carrot is a phenomenal company. But for a lot of people that don’t know about Carrot I’d like to begin the conversation if you will by breaking down what exactly does Carrot Fertility offer, what’s covered, and quite honestly, just how does it work?

Brooke Quinn
So at Carrot we work directly with employers to offer fertility and family forming benefits to their employees. And what that really means is that we’re partnering directly with those customers to help them customize a fertility benefit that provides financial, medical, and emotional support. We definitely know that all paths to parenthood look different and we want to make sure that it is a three-pronged approach to that path. Our clinically managed program includes a number of services, which is egg freezing, in vitro fertilization, donor and GC services, adoption, and also pregnancy support. And then additionally, within our platform, we have two also areas of focus. One being Carrot RX and this is a premium pharmacy experience, which provides pretty significant cost savings to employees. And the second is the Carrot card and this is actually a fertility debit card that employees can use directly to pay for their care. So as an employee is either at a clinic or seeking medical assistance with a doctor, they can swipe that card directly to pay for that coverage.

Eloise Drane
That’s awesome. So kind of like an HSA account. Is that true?

Brooke Quinn
Absolutely. It’s truly like a debit card. And so as opposed to having to be billed pay for the services submit a claim for reimbursement, you can actually do a direct debit on a pre funded card.

Eloise Drane
That’s awesome. Well, good. So I did some research and learn that strong labor unions in 1950s bargain for better benefit packages, and that major medical plans evolved during this era. With Vision Care becoming a popular option in 1957 and then dental benefits becoming an offering in 1959. So vision and dental are now ubiquitous to the concept of health care coverage. But I’m curious, why do you think is taken so long for the fertility sector to catch up? Like, what will it take for fertility and family building to earn the same default place?

Brooke Quinn
It’s a great question. I think, irst, isn’t it insane to think that vision and dental were once not a part of the core offering? So just as much as I think leaps and bounds were made to really view those as essential to a benefits package, I think we’re still in the early stages for fertility benefits. You know, I am incredibly optimistic that the progress is there. And we’ve certainly seen progress as it relates to Carrot over the last five years. But we still have significant work to do. One of the positive steps for me, and in looking at sort of where we were and where we’re going, we’ve almost quintupled our growth at carrot fertility in the last 18 months. And what that tells me is that the demand is there, the conversations are becoming more prevalent, and in my hope and dream is that fertility benefits and family forming will really become normalized as part of the conversation. And I think another point to notice that there are several states that have mandates for fertility coverage, but often what you’re going to find is that that mandate for coverage is really only inclusive when there’s a diagnosis of infertility. And we believe that family forming benefits should be fully inclusive, and not just dependent on that diagnosis of infertility.

Eloise Drane
Right? Because if you’re talking about only a diagnosis of infertility, then that automatically will exclude a same sex couple. Absolutely. Because obviously, they’re not going to have a diagnosis. It’s just impossible for them to carry your pregnancy. And even sometimes, even individuals that are single individuals, rather, that don’t have a partner and still want to become a parent, and they’re missing that other element that they need in order to be able to have a child.

Brooke Quinn
Absolutely. We believe that fertility benefits should be an offering regardless of age, sex, race, sexual orientation, location, marriage, etc. And so you’re spot on when the requirement is that it’s dependent on a diagnosis of infertility, you begin to exclude all these other paths to family forming.

Eloise Drane
Yeah. And another thing to note about these mandates in these various states, it should also be noted some of them it’s just for the screening that actually doesn’t cover anything. It’s just covering the screening, and then some actually cover IVF but there’s still a lot of stipulations that go along with that too. Carrot recently shared an Instagram post indicating that 31% wouldn’t feel comfortable asking their employer about fertility coverage. And Carrot also shared this statistic that 88% of survey respondents would consider changing jobs for fertility benefits. Why is it important for employers to offer fertility coverage to employees?

Brooke Quinn
Great question. I think first and foremost, fertility care is a fundamental part of health care. And there’s there is a big shift that we need to make for that to be recognized broadly. What we know is that infertility is common and in the US, one in eight couples experience infertility with 15 million couples worldwide experiencing infertility. And just as we talked about earlier, those figures don’t even take into account that there are people that are starting families through alternative methods. An example, LGBTQ plus people and single people. So we know that there’s a growing demand for fertility care in today’s workforce and that could be either people needing fertility support because of medical challenges or needing more inclusive paths to parenthood, like GC and adoption. And one thing that I think about often, and I’m sure you see it as well, there’s this big concept around the great resignation. And I swear every day, there’s a new article about how employers can combat the great resignation.

And this is a significant challenge for employers, and they’re really being faced with a challenge to consider and implement new methods for attracting and retaining talent. We also really believe that employers have a responsibility to support employee fertility care. As you mentioned earlier with the survey that we conducted, 77% of respondents said that they would stay longer at a company if they had access to fertility benefits. And one, as I was thinking about preparing for this discussion, I actually went back and looked at some member surveys and some feedback that we got directly from members. And I thought this specific member quote was really telling to really talk to the point of why there’s a demand for fertility benefits.

The member stated I would not have been able to get this far without Carrot. We just added this benefit this year and it’s the only reason I’m able to try and fulfill my dream of being a mom, even if alone. It has also kept me with my employer and I know I am one of many employees who truly value this additional benefit. To me this speaks volumes, number one, it speaks to the need to offer fully inclusive benefits. This is a member who was going down a family forming journey on their own, but they have a dream, they have a goal of becoming a mom. And this is someone who values their employer, wants to stay employed because they see an employer that values them and their health care and their goals. So we know that the demand is there.

Eloise Drane
I imagine that simply mentioning family building and fertility in an employment package takes the topic a bit out of the shadows and signals to employees that this is a medical consideration, nothing to be ashamed about. Are you guys seeing that more employees are beginning to expect fertility coverages for a portion of their employment package?

Brooke Quinn
I think we’re seeing employees that are raising their voice and saying that it matters. And you actually provided the statistic earlier in that 88% of respondents indicated that they would consider changing jobs for fertility benefits. That’s a pretty compelling figure. And I think that really supports the notion that there are demand employees see this as a benefit that that’s not just an add on benefit, that its core and fundamental to their health care. And I also think this really points to the fact that there’s been this taboo around discussions and conversations on fertility care. And our hope is that over time as we begin to continue these discussions, and fertility care becomes more prevalent, it really becomes normalized as part of health care.

Eloise Drane
And it has to be because I have been doing these podcast episodes for quite some time now. And one of the things that I have been sharing, really, since I started this podcast two years ago, is about the infertility rates increasing at such a substantial rate that is kind of scary, and nobody is talking about it. Nobody is addressing it. It’s not a concern. But it’s a concern when my now average clients for intended parents that are seeking the assistance of either egg donor or surrogacy are in their mid-30s, not late 30s. No, no longer 40s, not to say that we don’t have them, but we’re starting to see so many more people that are in their younger years needing to seek out fertility care.

Because we had one lady at 19 years old who ended up having to have a hysterectomy. And always knew she was going to have to have another way to be able to have a family if she ever chose it because a 19, she had to have a hysterectomy, or people that have had cancer, and have been dealing with all kinds of things. So it really truly is where we as a society need to kind of start opening our eyes and stop thinking that going back to what I had shared earlier about the strong labor unions back in the 1950s, that finally ended up adding benefits, and slowly trickling in the vision and the dental and the fact that we still haven’t even figured out fertility care. We keep calling it reproduction and then they were talking about, you’re talking with our children about reproduction. No, we talk to children in school about sex education, not about reproduction.

Brooke Quinn
I think the other part of this discussion and this is still quite taboo in society, but so many people equate infertility to just female. And it’s also normalizing the conversation that infertility is applicable to both males and females. And when we really start to talk about the different paths to parenthood, it becomes increasingly important to not just put that burden on the female, but that infertility crosses both genders. And I think that that’s also a reason why we made the decision to partner with legacy, which is a partnership around sperm freezing, because we know that male infertility is an area that we have to number one normalizing conversations, but also provide inclusive benefits around.

Eloise Drane
I heard a talk by Tammy Sun, who was the co-founder, CEO of Carrot Fertility, and she spoke about the importance of language in the fertility space. The language about legislation, policies that work products and services in the market haven’t really been updated in a long time. And she spoke about the evolution of the word infertility to the concept of fertility, proactive fertility, health, and really the only products in the fertility market up until a couple of years ago, were cycle or period tracking apps. It really didn’t expand to all the options currently out there. And we know, fertility care or reproductive health isn’t just because someone can’t conceive. How is carrot changing that dichotomy?

Brooke Quinn
Yeah, and I think this is this is a lot about what we’ve been talking about in this discussion, and we are working to change the dichotomy, but there’s still a significant amount of work to be done. And this, this really hits on that concept of there being many paths to parenthood, and that there’s not one path that looks exactly the same. And you know, just as historically, fertility care has been defined and required to have a diagnosis of infertility. This does not encompass an inclusive approach to fertility care. And again, it goes goes back to not making it a burden on a female looking at female and male infertility, but also looking at different paths to parenthood that is inclusive of GC, donor, adoption, pregnancy support. And so our goal is really to make sure that we’re driving a fully inclusive benefit, and that we’re changing the conversation around fertility care.

Eloise Drane
Yeah, definitely. Well, unlike most fertility benefit plans, Carrot, as you mentioned, covers adoption, gestational surrogacy, egg donation. And luckily, Family Inceptions, as a surrogacy and egg donation agency, we are now partnered with carrot. How would those working with Carrot given more direct access to services like ours with surrogacy agencies?

Brooke Quinn
Yeah, well, first, we are incredibly honored to be able to partner with you on your team. It was a great addition to our provider network and partnerships. And we’re really proud of the fact that 100% of the companies that Carrot works with in the US and multinationals, they offer GC and donor-assisted reproduction services. And one of the things that we’ve seen specifically, as of recent is that there’s a tremendous increase in employees accessing this type of fertility care. And with both GC and donor assisted reproduction services, it’s actually the fastest growing claim in our service offering and and I think that’s really telling in terms of again, those those multiple different paths to parenthood.

Eloise Drane
Yeah, definitely. And I know that especially for again, going back to the LGBTQ plus community, single individuals, do they have any additional hoops they need to jump through because it’s not a traditional they have their own genetic material that they’re using. And so is there anything in addition that they have to go through to be able to use your your services?

Brooke Quinn
One of the things that we are launching in January of 2022, is what we’re Carrot plans. And it’s all based on this concept that there is no one path that looks the same. And what we recognized is that people really wanted a personalized journey. And so what the carrot plan is, is really a series of questions that a member is going to go through within the platform to help identify exactly what resources they need available at their fingertips to help them through their family planning journey. That could be inclusive of educational resources, helping them identify a provider or clinic, helping them from a fertility medication perspective through Carrot RX. So really, what this Carrot plan journey is going to do is identify what type of plan they’re looking for, and then help create a checklist of items that need to be completed.

And this will be personalized at a unique level. And I think what’s what’s really important is sort of again, wrapping around that entire family planning journey is our care navigation team. And one of the things that we’re really proud to offer is unlimited expert chats to all of the members that have Carrot benefits. And this could be emotional support, this could be legal support from an adoption perspective. Whatever the question is, or wherever the support is needed, we have a number of experts available at all times to help support that member through their journey.

Eloise Drane
That’s awesome. That’s definitely awesome. When Google began offering egg freezing, many said it was to encourage staffers to delay parenthood. Do you know if the offering of fertility and family building benefits has or perhaps unintended effect of employees delaying parenthood?

Brooke Quinn
Well, I’m going to assume positive intent on Google and that they were looking to be a very positive and inclusive employer. I think the goal is not to delay parenthood, but I like to look at it from a lens of creating optionality and how and when people choose to embark on a family-forming journey. And so there may be various reasons why somebody may not be ready to go on a family forming journey, but they want to create optionality, it may be delaying that decision by a couple of years. And that’s where per se egg freezing could come into play. And egg freezing is absolutely an option but we are also seeing many people utilize their benefits for IVF, GC services, adoption and pregnancy support.

Eloise Drane
Well, and I know I asked the question, but I also do want to point out that there’s no because somebody is doing egg freezing, or whatever the case might be. I also feel like there’s no right or wrong to how somebody decides when and if they ever want to have children, if they want to egg freeze right now, if they want to, you know, wait, or if they want to be childless, and they don’t ever want to use those eggs or use the, to be able to even have children. I mean, that definitely is their option. I think we as a society. Yes, I know, I asked the question, but that was also it was also put on the sheet for me. So full disclaimer, but I think that we as a society, we always seem to want an explanation for something when sometimes we don’t even really need to have an explanation. It is what it is because I want to freeze my eggs period end of the discussion.

Brooke Quinn
I completely agree. And it’s also again, everybody’s on their own personalized health care journey, and there isn’t any explanation needed. And if somebody chooses not to go down a family forming journey, that’s certainly their decision. And so I just love that word optionality because I think it creates options for people to make decisions at the right time and at the right place for them.

Eloise Drane
Yeah. As far as scalability customization, and the fact that the financial benefit ranges up to about 75,000 right now, although I’m sure that can change depending on the company per employee. What kind of companies offers carrot benefits to their employees, and do these companies need to be of a certain size?

Brooke Quinn
Yeah, great question. So right now, we have a little over 250 customers and those really range across various industries. Whether it be retail financial services, food and beverage, health, professional services, when when I think about you know, our target or ideal customer, it’s less than about size and more about organizations that are looking to provide an inclusive benefit for family forming and reduce health care costs for their employees. And typically though, we do look at customers that have an employee base of 250 employees and greater, although I will say at Carrot, we’re just over 200 employees, and we actually offer a fertility benefit that has a 15,000 lifetime maximum benefit. And it’s something that we’ll continue to look at as an organization to make sure that our benefit offering continues to scale and grow as we continue to scale and grow as an organization.

And we also know that whether you’re a 250 person organization, or 100,000, life employer, we know that there’s value with a carrot benefit, whether it be educational, financial, or emotional support, there’s value that can be driven to those employees. And what I would say is, when you think about those small employers that are maybe considering different options, again, we talked about the great resignation, and companies really looking for ways to be competitive in the landscape. I think for companies that are smaller, the best place to start is with open and honest conversations with their employees, and really trying to gauge the importance of fertility and family forming benefits. And I think once they have an understanding of how important is this to the workforce, that can really help them customize and build a benefits packaging that’s going to meet those needs.

Eloise Drane
How can an employee get information into their employers hands and say, hey, you know what, here’s this company, here’s this organization that’s offering fertility benefits that I need, why can’t you guys check them out? Or you should check them out? What what can they do?

Brooke Quinn
You know, I love this. And I actually have a real example that just happened in this quarter, we have an employer that every week does an all company meeting. And they’re an organization of about 600 employees. And in this weekly meeting, there was an employee that actually brought up and the CEO is on this weekly meeting. And in this meeting, this employee brought up a question relative to fertility benefits, and had actually done their own independent research on a couple of providers. And a note came across to our sales team and the note basically said the CEO has asked us to look into carrot fertility as an option for our employees, because our employees have spoken. And this is something that they want, and they need. And so my advice would be have a voice, because I’ve seen that it matters. And a lot of organizations want to drive benefits that are meaningful. And I also think it goes back to that competitive landscape. If employees are asking for something that’s going to help drive retention and help attract talent, employers really need to listen and listen intently.

Eloise Drane
Definitely, I definitely agree. Well, Brooke, I thank you so much for joining me today. I know that this is only going to get bigger, hopefully and better. But do you have any final thoughts?

Brooke Quinn
Well, first and foremost, thank you so much, Eloise for inviting me onto your podcasts and for being such a tremendous partner to Carrot. We really are thrilled to be partnering with you and your organization. And I think in closing, it goes back to that concept around fertility care really being fundamental to health care and changing the conversation around that and making it an inclusive benefit. And I for one am incredibly excited and optimistic about the future. And I’m really excited to continue to help millions of people achieve their family forming goals.

Eloise Drane
Awesome. Thanks again, Brooke. It has been a pleasure speaking with you and I’m certain our listeners have learned a great deal from you. And of course, I’ll be sure to have all of your information in our show notes. So thank you so much for joining us today.

Brooke Quinn
Thank you.

Eloise Drane
I hope you found this discussion helpful as you weigh your next steps. We would love for you to rate us so if you haven’t yet, go to your listening platform of choice and subscribe, rate and review this podcast. Five-star reviews are our favorite. You can follow Fertility Café on Instagram and Facebook channel at family inceptions. We’d also love you to share Fertility Café with friends and family members who would benefit from the information shared. Be sure to stay tuned for season four coming up in the spring of 2022. Thank you so much for joining me today. Remember, love has no limits, neither should parenthood.

Outro
Thank you for joining us in the fertility cafe. Whether you’re an intended parent, a woman considering egg donation, thinking of becoming a surrogate yourself, or a friend or family member of someone dealing with infertility, we’re here to help. Visit our website, thefertilitycafe.com for resources on fertility, alternative family building, and making this journey your own.

Listen to this episode here.

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