Where Are the Coins?: Paying for Fertility Treatments
Updated: May 3, 2019
I went through infertility treatments, working as a consultant on 1099 status. I paid for my health insurance out of pocket, having selected an insurance provider that covered Invitro Fertilization at 95%. Ultimately, I only paid a total of $100, which covered my remaining balance of the medications. After much research, I had come across an insurance provider that allowed me to pay monthly for my coverage. Lots of women in America aren't that fortunate and fertility assistance is looked at as a "niche condition". Which in fact, it's more common as breast cancer or diabetes.
I recently learned that our very own "Forever First Lady", Michelle Obama also struggled with infertility. In her memoir, released in 2018, she shared that she and President Barack Obama conceived both of their beautiful daughters through Invitro Fertilization (IVF). I was elated to learn this! I'm not alone in this and it gave me more peace about proceeding with having more children in the same way. I wonder, if like me, Michelle Obama had to go through an insurance provider or did she and Barack just have those coins to pay for it straight up...
Full fertility treatments are still not a standard part of most company health insurance plans, and are not viewed under current health care laws as an essential benefit. There has been much public debate around whether employers have the right to limit women's access to contraception through their health plans. What's crazy to me is the fact that if you need medical help to conceive a child, adequate insurance to coverage for such treatment is largely viewed as an employment "perk". Only 16 states currently require that insurance companies provide or offer some type of coverage. However, even those benefits can have loopholes, and even fail to cover the large costs associated with effective treatment.
The overall process can be grueling, involving short-notice doctor appointments early in the morning, physically invasive procedures that cam require sedation, endless blood draws, regular self-injections of intense hormones, and the emotional roller coaster of waiting to find out if the procedure was successful. I was open with my employer about my IVF appointments to be sure I got approval to work a half-day or make up my time off by working from home.
If you are interested in knowing more about your options to conceive, I recommend visiting your OB/GYN to get evaluated in order to understand your options for conception. Should you be a candidate for IVF, there are more resources than you'd think!
For instance, there are grants and loans targeted towards being uninsured, being male with fertility issues, being a person of color, being in the military, and the list goes on! As always, you can contact your employer's HR department and Employee Assistance Program for additional information or to confirm if your state provides fertility coverage in your medical benefits. The application process, qualifications and instructions are typically clear so you can evaluate if you're a candidate for potentially receiving funding. Here are a few sites that I researched in my quest to locking down funding for IVF: