We owe a debt of gratitude to those serving in the military. Unfortunately, our gratitude is often all they will get when it comes to infertility treatment. The good news is that things are slowly beginning to change.
The military is a hard place to be infertile. Frequent moves, deployments, and a living environment surrounded by young families add up to misery for many service members who are struggling to conceive.
What Infertility Benefits are Available in Tricare?
Tricare is the health care program for uniformed service members and their families. Tricare will cover medically necessary care that could lead to a natural conception. This includes:
- Diagnosis and treatment for an illness or injury of the male or female reproductive system, including correcting any physical cause of infertility
- Care for erectile dysfunction if it has a physical cause.
- Diagnostic services like:
- Semen analysis
- Hormone evaluation
- Chromosomal studies
- Immunologic studies
- Special and sperm function tests
- Bacteriologic investigation
Preauthorization may be required.
TRICARE does not cover:
- Artificial or intrauterine insemination
- Donor egg or donor sperm.
- Reversal of tubal ligation or vasectomy, unless medically necessary
- Care for erectile dysfunction from psychological causes, including:
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Tricare for Infertile Due to Injury on Active Duty
If you were rendered infertile as a result of an injury or illness while on active duty, you may be eligible for more infertility treatment. According to Tricare:
If you’re a service member (male or female) who:
- Is on active duty,
- Had a serious illness or injury while on active duty (Category II or III),
- Lost natural reproductive ability due to that illness or injury, and
- Has a lawful spouse
Then the following services may be available:
- Sperm retrieval
- Egg retrieval
- In vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Artificial insemination
- Blastocyst implantation
- Cryopreservation and storage of embryos
The following isn’t included:
- Fertility preservation
If you get care or medication in the civilian sector, you must use participating network providers if available. And remember, you must get preauthorization for every IVF cycle.
Infertility Treatment at Military Treatment Facilities
There are six military treatment facilities that provide full services for infertility:
- Walter Reed National Military Medical Center – Bethesda, Maryland
- Tripler Army Medical Center – Honolulu, Hawaii
- Womack Army Medical Center – Fayetteville, North Carolina
- Madigan Army Medical Center – Tacoma, Washington
- San Antonio Military Medical Center – San Antonio, Texas
- Naval Medical Center San Diego – San Diego, California
The care is excellent and the cost of infertility treatment, including IVF, is significantly reduced. In the Efforts to Treat Infertility of Military Families report to Congress, the estimated cost of an IVF cycle was $5,000, which is a lot less than the typical $15,000 cost in non-military facilities.
The disadvantages to using these Military Treatment Facilities is they may not be convenient to where you live and there is often a significant wait time– up to 18 months or longer. This is a very good reason to get diagnosed sooner rather than later, even if you are content to not start treatment for a while in order to get on the waiting list.
Infertility Treatment for Veterans
So what about veterans who served our country then left the military? Prior to 2017, the Veterans Administration provided limited infertility treatment but did not include IVF. As of January 19, 2017, IVF is now provided for a veteran with “a service-connected disability that results in the inability of the veteran to procreate without the use of fertility treatment.” In addition, IVF is available to the spouse of a veteran with a service-connected disability that results in the inability of the veteran to procreate without the use of fertility treatment. This change is included in 38 CFR §17.380.
Image Credit: Photo by Joe deSousa on Unsplash