niaw: access to treatment

have you heard, it’s national infertility awareness week! and in honor of it, i have been doing a bunch of posts this week for all of my fertile friends and family to help inform them about infertility and the issues in our community.

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personhood legislation and similar laws aren’t the only things that can make it difficult for infertile couples to build their families.  by and large, the biggest hurdle for couples is financial.  according to resolve, the average costs of various ART procedures:

  • IUI: ranged from $275 to $2,457—a huge differential. Some prices quoted include medications, blood work and sonograms; others do not
  • fresh IVF cycle: $8,158 plus an average of $3,000 – $5,000 for medications
  • additional cost of ICSI procedure:$1,544
  • additional cost of PGD procedure: $3,550

that’s a little bit more than the fancy dinner and bottle of wine some people can make a baby with.

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we have been so very fortunate to be infertile in new jersey, which Resolve recently ranked as the second most infertility friendly state. but not everyone is as lucky as we are. see, we live in one of just 15 states that currently have laws requiring some form of insurance coverage for infertility.  if you look at states that don’t allow ivf to be excluding, that list shrinks down to just 7.

we are lucky that, through my school district, i have comprehensive coverage for infertility treatments and medications.  even though Ralph works in new jersey too, the headquarters for his firm is in maine, and they don’t have to provide coverage (yet another reason i cannot be a stay-at-home-mom until we know for sure we are done building our family).  if you’re interested, you can see a breakdown of the costs of our treatments here (although it looks like it needs some updating).

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insurance coverage doesn’t just make the goal of a family more attainable for people, it also helps to reduce some of the risks that couples can take during infertility treatments.  treating infertility is often a crapshoot.  until you try a cycle, you can’t always be sure how a person will react to the medications, or the quality of the eggs a woman produces.  i don’t think we would have a baby today without that first failed cycle that helped us to refine my medication protocol.  we were so lucky that in new jersey my insurance allows me for four egg retrievals  four chances to see what worked best for us.

but what if you don’t have those four cycles to play with?  what if you have saved for years and years for just one shot at your family?  naturally, you would want to maximize your possibility of bringing home a baby in nine months.

over the past 30 years, doctors and couples have found that transferring more than one embryo can increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.  but the thing is, transferring more than one embryo doesn’t just increase the chance of a pregnancy; it also increases the chance of multiples (and we’re not talking high order multiples like that stupid octo-mom.  they defied common sense and industry standards, and the IF community has been trying to forget them for years.  they do not represent us).

studies have found that states with insurance mandates have significantly lower rates of multiples, because they have a lower average number of embryos transferred.  with multiple pregnancies, you have added risks.  both the babies and the mothers are at risk for serious complications, some of which can be deadly.  in 2002, the cdc released results that infant mortality rates had increased for the first time in 40 years.  they attributed this rise to a rise in multiples, caused in part by assisted reproductive technologies.

and not requiring insurance providers to cover infertility isn’t really them any money.  research has found that they are still paying for the treatments, its just being coded differently.  in fact, the majority of Ralph’s testing and stuff was covered even without his provider offering infertility coverage.  and if they had to provide coverage, it would cost less than $2 a month extra.

its understandable to think that, on face of things, requiring coverage isn’t that important.  but if we can create safer situations for moms and babies, as well as help couples build families, for such a small cost, it seem like a no-brainer to me.

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in addition to trying to get more states to require coverage, Resolve has been active supporting the Family Act.  Unfortunately, it died during the last Congress, and will need to be re-introduced.  the Family Act would create a tax credit for out-of-pocket costs associated with infertility treatments.  even if you can’t make it to advocacy day to talk to your representatives about the Family Act, you can easily contact them and ask for their support.

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there are financial aid resources available to families struggling with the financial aspects of infertility treatments:

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One thought on “niaw: access to treatment

  1. Thank you so much for all of these great NIAW posts! You are covering such important issues here, and I love your dedication to writing so often during this week! I am really proud to raise my voice alongside yours for all of us women and men struggling with IF.

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