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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Lack of Coverage=Hard Decisions

The stress associated with saving for your child's college fund or retirement is well-known. The government has created many resources for relieving these financial burdens. Yet those of us who need to spend the equivalent of a year of college just for a chance to make it to the starting line have few options for financing the treatments that recreate what comes for free for other citizens. The average American simply can't afford fertility treatments even though they have the financial means to raise a child. It is extremely frustrating to watch other medical conditions have coverage to make treatments affordable or accessible while fertility treatments remain a consumer-driven industry with an astronomical price tag.

During our first tango with treatments (we are now embarking on adding to our family with fertility treatments again after over a year and a half of trying on our own), both my husband and I were working and we took the attitude of whatever-the-cost assuming that we would be able to pay it off at some point in the future. I had excellent insurance through my job that paid partially for all non-IVF treatments, procedures, and exams and 50% of IVF. Paying for fertility treatments seemed do-able, even for a middle school teacher and a non-profit arts administrator.

Fast forward to today and we're stuck between a rock and a hard place. Now our insurance comes through the District of Columbia rather than Maryland and we have very little coverage for non-IVF treatments, procedures, and exams and no coverage at all for IVF. We do not qualify for in-house financing programs, such as shared-risk, and the biggest injustice is that the people who will probably need multiple treatments to get pregnant and require the most medications have the least amount of options in terms of coverage.

We are refinancing our house and taking out more loans in order to add to our family. But it's decision time. We don't have the luxury of trying one or more paths to parenthood. Financially, we only have the means for the option that gives us the best chance--even if its not necessarily the best choice for our family as a whole. At the same time, I know we're lucky that we have a house we can refinance and that I have a husband who is willing to take on tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt to add to our family. And it makes me a little bitter that those are the silver linings I have in all of this.


Jen said...

Fear of the costs is part of the reason my husband and I haven't started fertility treatments yet. We have enough money to raise a child, but not enough to "lab-create" one yet. That's the same reason we haven't considered adoption yet either, not enough money. It seems unfair that the people who really want children and would take very good care of them can't get them.

SarahSews said...

I'm sorry you are dealing with this Mel. I've mentioned before that we took what we thought would be a year long break because even though we knew IVF was our next step, we just could not afford it. We own our home too but can't get any money out of it due to the crazy housing market. I too work for a non-profit and DH for a small business -- big money isn't coming our way any time soon.

IF is bad enough on its own without feeling like you have to gamble your future away.

Thinking of you.

r_is_moody said...

Well said Mel. It truly just is not fair that we must spend thousands of dollars for something others get so easily.

Ms Heathen said...

Here in the UK things are slightly different. There is limited funding for IVF on our state-funded National Health Service, but it varies according to where in the country you live (the so-called 'postcode lottery'). After eighteen months on the NHS waiting list, we received a letter telling us that they had run out of money in our local area, and so they would not be funding any fertility treatment (if we lived seventy miles down the road, things would be different). Although we have private health insurance, this does not cover IVF, so we are now having to find the money to pay for treatment.

The added financial pressures really do make an already stressful situation even more difficult. I do hope that you manage to find a way through it all.

hope said...

dh and i have been in spain (his home country) for several years now. We started ttc in the us and came here post 2nd miscarriage. It's been intense to adjust to the medical system (along with the language) barrier while dealing with treatments BUT we have stayed here because the costs of all my health care: pregnancies, miscarriages, hormones, IVF and DE, has been, literally 1/100th of the cost of the US. I'm dying to get back home to my mom (it's hard to do this alone), but the thought of returning the US health care system makes me sick with worry.

PCOSMama said...

It truly is unfair. It feels as though we, as infertiles, are so often discriminated against. The whole insurance thing just makes it worse!
I realize that I am incredibly lucky to have the coverage I do. Without it, we may not have any children. It's just too costly. In a world where most dual-income families can barely make ends meet, it's tough to face the decision of doling out tens of thousands of dollars on treatments or giving up your dream of children.
Why should we have to put ourselves into debt and possible financial ruin in some cases to be allowed the basic right of having children, which comes free to everyone else? Once we manage to conceive, the insurance companies will generally cover prenatal care, etc. Why won't they cover the necessary treatments for us to conceive the children they are willing to insure?
I could just go on and on about all this, but I'd probably better not.

I think this is a wonderful idea, getting the word out there from the mouths of those living the reality of infertility... I hope the right people read and learn, and hopefully do something to right the injustice!

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

i know.
i mean, we are considering doing a donor IVF before we even do an IVF with my eggs. b/c we can't do it 3 or 4 times. and we are both professionals with great high-paying jobs. i mean, G-d bless those who don't.
i hope you guys win the lottery. (literally and figuratively)

Vacant Uterus said...

Exactly. Tell them and keep telling them, Mel. This can't go on.

Bea said...

It's just insane, and it makes no actual sense. Like it's more politically/culturally driven than by cold, hard facts and pragmatism.