For couples who want to have their own children and who have struggled, insurance benefits may mean the difference between completing one round of fertility treatments or four. For most Americans, infertility insurance is not a required healthcare plan benefit. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changed health care coverages, currently it does not require coverage for fertility treatments. Let’s take a look at the costs of infertility and how infertility insurance measures up.
How is infertility defined?
Primary infertility occurs when a couple is unable to become pregnant after one year of continuous trying without birth control. While infertility is about as common as diabetes, impacting about 12% of couples, treatments can be expensive, involved, and last for months and up to years. Treatment for infertility is unique because it is a couple’s diagnosis, so both must be diagnosed and treated. It can be an expensive condition especially if Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) such as IVF and IUI are needed.
What does fertility treatment cost?
Fatherly’s Patrick Coleman explains: “Traditional IVF will generally top out around $14,000. However, expect that figure to nearly double if electing to use donor eggs, which can cost up to $25,000.” Even without ART, medications like injectable hormones can cost hundreds per month. An Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) runs $300 to $800 per cycle, but IUI are often paired with drug therapies and costs can increase if you use donor sperm (Source). Additional fees for medications, storage, genetic testing and diagnostic exams can be extra.
According to FertilityIQ a cycle of in vitro fertilization or IVF will cost about $23,000 per cycle. And the“average IVF patient will cycle multiples times (2.3 – 2.7 times), which brings the actual cost closer to $50,000.”
Why is treating infertility often not covered by health insurance plans?
One of the reasons traditional health plans fail to offer comprehensive coverage for IVF is because it would drive overall insurance premium costs higher. Given that the average couple spends upwards of $50,000 on treatments, excluding cost of labor and delivery, insurance would have to cost enough per person to be able to provide the coverage to everyone. These are the factors that drive up the cost of primary health insurance and why it has been such a difficult problem to solve. In many states, employers also have the choice to reject fertility treatment coverage.
Assuming that an employer did offer coverage, what type of coverage could you expect to receive? ModernFertility’s Chanel Dubofsky completed an informal survey regarding infertility insurance. She found people’s experience with current fertility insurance plans coverage for treatment ranged from nothing to paying for some of the medications to paying for all of the medications and even covering one IVF cycle. There was quite a variety of experiences that she documented. FertilityIQ reports that “less than 27% of Americans have a fertility treatment paid for by insurance.” Of those, only a small percentage have the majority of the infertility treatment covered completely by insurance. Basically, it’s rare to be covered by a primary health plan you purchase individually or from an employer.
How to make fertility affordable?
There is a way to make treating infertility affordable by purchasing supplemental health insurance early in life for children who may need it as adults. In this way, we can cover this diagnosis for more couples and future families without having to rely on legislators, healthcare policy changes, employers and what primary health plan your child may have in the future.
LifeSpring offers the nation’s first Primary Infertility Assistance Policy for children ages 0-13, now available in Texas. For a one-time payment of about $2,000, which can be paid out monthly, the policy covers the insured and their future partner if they ever need infertility treatment. For relatively small investment, it pays up to $50,000 – covering the couple for 18 years from age 18-35 when they are ready to build a family. It covers all the procedures couples typically need to resolve an infertility diagnosis up to $50,000, including IVF and IUI, storage, medications and minor procedures.
If you or someone you care about has been through treatment for infertility, you know the stress and financial hardship it brings. We may not be able to remove the emotional weight an infertility journey brings, but a LifeSpring policy can relieve the financial hardship that causes many couples to abandon their dream of having their own biological child. Learn more about the product and contact us if we can answer your questions.
Deciding to have children together is a monumental decision. It can be an exciting and hopeful time to embark on this journey together. But when trying to conceive lasts longer than you both think it should, it can be frustrating. Seeking out fertility treatments like IVF and IUI can add to the stress. During and after IVF, there are still many ways for you and your spouse to stay connected.
While undergoing treatment for infertility might be one of the most difficult periods of you and your partner’s life, it can also be a time to strengthen your relationship. Here are a few ways a couple can connect with one another emotionally and physically during and after IVF treatments.
Throughout IVF Treatments
Honor One Another’s Contributions
It doesn’t matter what part of the journey to parenthood you are on, honor your unique journey and contributions toward having a child together. There will always be moments that you might shoulder more of a burden, but the same is true of your partner.
Holly Schechter, who went through IVF with her husband, explained how hard it was for her at first to consider herself as part of a team. She writes, “I had kept him [my husband] a bystander; I sought satisfaction in martyrdom. And I carried a grudge, too; it was difficult to acknowledge that this wasn’t solely my burden to bear, just because it was solely my abdomen…We would spend almost two more years sitting at our kitchen table, trying to make a baby. As I lost hope, I also relinquished my need to be a martyr. It became our struggle, our treatment.” You are a team, with different roles and responsibilities. Together you will get through this time in your life, too.
Connecting During IVF Treatments
Be ready for the emotional roller coaster
As you continue this journey toward parenthood, medical treatments, doctor appointments and schedules can quickly dominate your lives together. Recognize that you are both on an emotional roller coaster, too. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine describes it this way:
“Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises that a couple has ever experienced together. The long term inability to conceive a child can evoke significant feelings of loss. Coping with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional upheaval for most couples.”
Knowing this is normal and that many couples experience feelings of grief, worry, frustration, sadness, hope and even joy. Take it day by day and check in with one another. If feelings of anxiety, depression or sadness become overwhelming, finding emotional support can give you both a sounding board and some relief. Support groups such as those offered by RESOLVE or finding a professional counselor can help you both, individually or together.
Find new ways to connect with each other
Intimacy is more than sex. There are times when physical intimacy might not be recommended, such as after egg collection, IVF, child birth or other medical procedures. Remember the power of holding their hand for the first time, giving hugs, massages and going on a walk together.
You can also offer support through love notes, little gifts like their favorite drink or treat. Do a task for them that they dislike. Clean the kitchen or their car, pick up the groceries. Show you care in the little moments.
Australian charity Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) recommends creating “‘IVF-free’ evenings or days when talk about IVF is off-limits.” This simple practice can give couples the breathing room to step away from the IVF vortex. You all might consider getaways or a vacation between cycles to practice self-care for yourself and your relationship together.
Nurture your physical relationship
Going through IVF can definitely take the romance out of a couple’s sex life, but there are ways to lessen the stress and anxiety this new reality can bring. Trying to have intercourse on a schedule on the most optimal days and times can quickly transform a pleasurable experience into a transactional one. Find ways to reclaim your physical relationship and make it about connecting with your partner.
Schedule a date night
While we are still in a COVID-focused world and at home more often, take advantage of the time you both have available to connect one on one with your spouse or partner. Fun date night ideas:
- Play a game.
- Go on a walk.
- Cook a meal together or take a cooking class together.
- Go to a (virtual) concert together.
- Take an online course together. For example, Pinot’s Palette is holding virtual art classes.
- Complete a home improvement project not related to a child.
- Try a new hobby.
- Go on an adventure, even if it is to a store or a local hiking trail.
Set time that is just for you two. There are so many wonderful ways that you can spend time with each other. This time is so precious. Here are even more date night ideas.
Remember to chat with each other
Communication is key. Being able to talk about insecurities, worries and fears are important as a couple. But it is also equally important to not drown your partner in conversations about infertility all of the time. You both may have different ways of processing the emotions you are feeling. One week you might not want to talk, or the opposite may be true. Creating a safe place to discuss how you’re feeling and how to make decisions together will help you have more empathy and compassion for one another. You may have many decisions to make together about treatment, finances, which friends and family to tell and more. Be ready to listen, compromise and help each other through the hard parts.
Going through infertility can yield positive benefits no matter the outcome. COPE reminds us that “Research studies have found the crisis of infertility can positively benefit relationships by forcing couples to be self-reflective and improve their communication, and it encourages partners to develop effective coping strategies together.” Coping and communication skills are the foundation of healthy relationships for the long-term.
Staying Connected After You Become Parents
For many couples, IVF is a solid path to parenthood. For other couples, they may need to build their family in other ways – such as with a surrogate or through adoption. Once you have a child/ren, your life as a couple is permanently changed and life will never be the same. Accept that. The journey you and partner have been on, with its joy, sorrow, excitement and hope has created expectations for life as parents. The transition from dream to reality may be a little rough, but here are some suggestions for connecting with your partner after you become parents.
Give yourselves some grace
The transition to parenthood can be tough for any new parent. Sometimes our expectations of how we think it will be don’t always match with reality and can cause misunderstandings. Have some grace. Both of you are caring for newborn. You are exhausted and will be that way for a while. The laundry, house and chores simply won’t be the same because your child’s needs will come first. Enjoy the precious moments you have together as a couple and with your child/ren.
Listen for each other’s needs and enlist support
Keep in touch and help each other through this transition. You may not have the personal space you are used to and the caregiving schedule can become overwhelming. Take turns and lean on each other. Enlist support to help you during the sleepless nights or with chores. Meal and grocery delivery services can make household chores easier. A friend can coordinate a meal calendar to allow many friends and family to provide meals to help you all during this time. Call on family or employ a night doula also called a baby nurse or night nurse to help you make it through those tough first few weeks and months as routines become established.
Reserve time to be a couple
Date night and couple time after a child is different. When you are able to have a family member or babysitter watch your child, get out of the house and go for a date (see date ideas above), even if it is a walk around the block. At-home date nights are a wonderful way to connect with your partner. Try a game night or movie night. Make a meal together. Get dressed up and enjoy a meal. Dance together or pick up a different hobby together. The important part is to make time for one another and practice self-care. Prioritizing your relationship and taking care of yourself and each other are wonderful habits to model for your child.
Prepare your child for their own family
Because you have faced infertility, then you understand the toll it can take emotionally, physically and financially. What if you could reduce the financial impact of IVF for your children, would you? LifeSpring Insurance Services offers an early-life supplemental health insurance policy for children ages birth through age 13 that covers them when they are older and ready to have a family. LifeSpring’s affordable Primary Infertility Assistance Policy is a unique way to make fertility treatments affordable for a child you love. Learn more about setting up your child’s financial future, and join the LifeSpring mailing list to stay in touch.
Infertility insurance is not a common coverage among the millions of families worldwide who have had children via IVF. While some traditional health plans will cover infertility diagnosis and treatment, the coverage is often incomplete. Many families are still paying out of pocket to cover the costs. And some decide to forgo having their own biological child, building a family in other ways.
Some companies offer fertility treatment benefits such as IUI and IVF, but it’s a small number as compared to the number of U.S. businesses (18,500) with 500 or more employees. ABC News reported, “Over 400 U.S. companies offer benefits for fertility treatments…[but] Even with some employers adding infertility benefits, the majority of IVF patients treated last year paid for all or some of their treatment out-of-pocket, according to Fertility IQ.”
Treatment for infertility has long been thought of as a women’s issue or a lifestyle choice for those who can afford it. Change is coming though. In 2017, the American Medical Association declared infertility a disease for the first time. For the world of insurance, this distinction makes a world of difference.
However, insurance as a industry is slow to change. Immediate past president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Dr. Richard J. Paulson explains that just 30 years ago “most insurance companies didn’t even cover obstetrics [childbirth]. It was all out of pocket.”
Why don’t employers offer infertility insurance?
One reason employers don’t offer infertility insurance is that is is too expensive. The cost of fertility treatments is still too high. To cover it would require insurance companies to raise the cost of health insurance premiums overall. Combine this with the escalating costs of healthcare and it is even less likely that employers will add infertility coverage in the future.
Another financial concern is that the cost of infertility treatments often incentivizes couples to seek higher risk treatments in the hopes of a quicker return. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advise against the transfer of multiple embryos during an IVF cycle for most women. They favor elective single-embryo transfer (eSET) using IVF, a type of Assisted Reproductive Technology, because of the risks of multiple birth, which can lead to much higher healthcare costs for patients and insurance companies.
Why can’t the states require fertility coverage?
Out of the 50 states, 18 have any type of required infertility coverage according to RESOLVE, a fertility advocacy nonprofit. Advocates from RESOLVE and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine are currently working in the hopes that states will be able to create/pass laws that mandate insurance coverage for infertility. This, however, will be a long road because even if states pass similar laws, like Delaware, which has one of the most comprehensive bills concerning infertility, not everyone would still have access to the same coverage.
State laws can only mandate or require that employers of a certain size and those with a certain type of insurance cover specific health benefits. Employers who are smaller and those are self-insured are exempt from state regulations. Only a federal law can require that infertility be covered, and the Affordable Care Act already does not consider it part of the Essential Healthcare Benefits.
How can I find insurance that covers fertility treatments?
While primary health insurance plans are not equipped to deal with all the expenses that fertility treatments incur, a supplemental health insurance policy is filling that need.
Supplemental health insurance is designed to fill any coverage gaps left by a traditional health insurance plan. This insurance can cover a variety of conditions that your traditional plan does not cover or does not cover completely. Often supplemental health insurance plans cover eye care/glasses, dental care, hospitalization, accidents, major illnesses and other medical conditions, including infertility.
Where can I buy infertility insurance?
Infertility insurance is now available as a supplemental health policy for future families. At LifeSpring, we cover children today so that families of tomorrow don’t have to worry about what health insurance they have or who their future employer will be. They can have the freedom to be an entrepreneur or business owner without the worry of not having the financial resources to cover treatment for primary infertility.
Change is taking place in insurance and health care reform, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to see what options your child or grandchild may or may not have access to. By covering children today, we can make coverage more affordable for many more families. It’s a fantastic way to preserve a family legacy by planning ahead. Learn more about LifeSpring’s innovative Primary Infertility Assistance Policy and see if it might be right for a Texas child in your life.