Infertility is a medical condition just like arthritis, thyroid issues, and asthma are, but sadly many insurers don’t see it this way. No one asks to be infertile or expects to be diagnosed with infertility; however, an ever-increasing number of couples struggle from infertility. Is it something “in the water” that has caused this? I think so, but that is another soapbox for another day.
Today’s soapbox is focused on the unfortunate scene of infertility services being a “luxury” item for many couples. Of course there are insurers that offer coverage or some coverage for infertility services and a few states that have statewide mandates for infertility coverage and the offering of a plans that provide coverage. My hat’s off to them, but regrettably, they are the exception. We need more insurers to recognize the importance of providing couples with the opportunity to try and conceive.
Infertility services, plus the medications for each cycle, are extremely costly. The costs for these services have drained the savings accounts of many families and even more commonly, prevented them from being able to try again or to even try at all. I firmly believe that the price tag for a MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS should never prevent a couple from achieving their dreams of becoming parents.
Infertility services shouldn’t just be for those who can afford them, but available for everyone needing them.
My history with infertility services
My husband and I underwent 3 IUI’s, 4 IVFS, and 2 egg retrievals, all of which were paid out of pocket. The question of “can we afford to do this again at this time?” came up every time we had a failed cycle, especially considering that we didn’t know how many more times it would take before we hopefully received a positive pregnancy result. With our track record, patience and persistence felt like the only things on our side. We knew there would come a time when the “Butcher Bank” would run dry and the thought of having to beat this was terrifying.
On June 22, 2015 we received a call that dropped me to my knees—we found out of our seventh infertility treatment worked and we were pregnant. While I recognize how fortunate we were to have been able to undergo this amount of infertility services and achieving our happily ever after, I can’t help but think about if we hadn’t had the means to continue pursuing infertility services? The answer is really simple. We would not have our daughter. It is with a broken heart that I recognize that some couples don’t get their happily ever after purely because they’re unable to pursue or undergo repeated infertility services, and I don’t think this is fair nor acceptable.
I do not write this article with the intention to bash insurers. In fact, I applaud the increasing number of insurers who are now offering coverage for infertility services as the infertility challenges across America continues to affect millions of families. In addition to infertility coverage, many companies are also offering adoption benefits to employees. Adoption can also be a costly endeavor and it is refreshing to hear that more and more companies are offering financial support to employees to seek adoption. It is my hope that this trend will continue to spread, and until then I feel strongly about helping to increase awareness on the issue of making infertility and adoption insurance coverage the norm and no longer a “luxury option.”
How can we advocate for this hopeful new norm?
- Schedule a visit with your employer’s Human Resources department and increase their knowledge about the necessity of infertility and adoption coverage options (Resolve, 2016). Inform your employer about the rates of infertility on the local, state, and national level and the costs associated with seeking infertility services and adoption, both the financial and emotional costs. There is always a return on the investment an employer makes in their employees. If an employer provides financial support for infertility and/or adoption costs, it can be anticipated that the employees’ needing the financial support will be more present at work and produce better quality work simply because he or she is not drowning in the financial burdens associated with achieving the dream of becoming a parent. Take it from me, one who has both adopted and undergone several infertility treatments, there is not a more terrifying thought than a lack of money being the reason you can’t become a parent. Personally, I don’t believe that a lack of monetary resources should ever be able to take away a couple’s dream of trying to have a family. The two words, money and child are two words that should only go together when talking about the money we happily spend on them for their birthday celebrations, favorite extracurricular activities, education etc. These words should not be placed together as if they were some sort of a requirement for each other. Resolve, the National Infertility Association, has additional resources on initiating the conversation with your employer at http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/insurance_coverage/getting-insurance-coverage-at-work.html
- Contact your state representative and advocate for the state to pass an infertility insurance mandate, resulting in all insurers having to offer or provide coverage (depending on the details of the mandate) for infertility services. Resolve has additional resources to learn more about legislation and the Center for Infertility Justice at http://www.resolve.org/get-involved/the-center-for-infertility-justice/
- Help support, fundraise, and advocate for the non-profits aiming to provide financial support for individuals wishing to seek infertility services and/or adoption . Thank you to all of these organizations for helping dreams come true!
Reference: Resolve, the National Infertility Association (2016). Health Insurance 101. Retrieved from http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/insurance_coverage/health-insurance-101.html