Strategies for creating the best mix of employee benefit plans are as varied as the organizations that offer them. In the current business climate, especially coming out of the pandemic period, attracting and retaining the best employees feels like an art form with all kinds of issues to address. The benefits most valued in 2023 and moving into the next few years might be different than what they’ve been in the past.

How are employers and plan sponsors preparing? One way is to learn more about their different employee populations and what they want and need. Organizations that want to address the needs for the LGBTQ+ employee community, may need to explore questions they should ask or could ask to understand the considerations surrounding the types of LGBTQ+ benefits to include. In the International Foundation’s recent webcast, Making Benefits Queer-Inclusive, speakers Michele Kessler, Secretary-Treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776 and Attorney Timothy Eicher, a Principal at Slevin & Hart, P.C. provided a thoughtful and in-depth look at the unique employee benefit needs of the LGBTQ+ community and how that translates into practical considerations for employers and plan sponsors.

Three Takeaways for Plan Sponsors

  1. Understanding terminology

Kessler discussed the terminology used – what she termed the “alphabet soup” of letters that LGBTQ+ employees use – and why it matters for employers to understand what they signify. As part of this discussion, statistics shared from a 2023 Gallup survey include that 7.2% of those in the U.S. self-identify as LGBTQ+, a figure that has doubled since 2012 when Gallup first measured it. In addition, Gallup also reported that one in five members of Gen Z (born 1997 to 2004) identifies as LGBTQ+.

  • Same-sex marriage before and after Windsor and Obergefell rulings

Eicher provided a legal review and addressed “how we got here,” including addressing the Supreme Court rulings in Windsor and Obergefell and how these cases affect retirement and health plans today. In addition, he spoke about why non-spouse benefits still matter and guidelines that can be used to avoid abuse and craft a plan in a smart way.

  • Practical considerations for plans expanding gender-affirming care and fertility coverage

In recent years, employers have added in-vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy coverage, and other fertility benefits. According to the International Foundation’s 2022 Employee Benefits Survey, approximately 73% of all organizations include IVF treatments in their health plan.  The webcast speakers emphasized that expanding or adding gender-affirming and other benefits do not have to be cost-prohibitive and reviewed several case studies that addressed costs associated with specific benefits.

Tune in to the webcast recording to learn more about the following:

  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Preventive services litigation
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) nondiscrimination provisions
  • LGBTQ+ inclusive workplaces
  • Small steps that can go a long way in making your plan and workplace more welcoming for everyone.

Developed by International Foundation Information Center staff. This does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your plan professionals for legal advice.

Anne Newhouse

Information/Research Specialist at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Favorite Foundation Service: The Information Center! Members having the ability to have an information specialist research their topic is a great benefit. Favorite Foundation Moment: Attending the 2013 CEBS conferment ceremony in Boston as an official CEBS graduate. Benefits Related Topics That Interest Her Most: Benefit communication—helping employers understand what employees want and the way they want it communicated to them. Personal Insight: Anne may spend her days in the International Foundation employee benefits library, patiently researching answers to member questions—but after work, she’s ready to move with a bike, hike or walk in the great outdoors.

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