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. Thank goodness that things are slowly beginning to change in this regard.
The military is a hard place to be infertile. Often you are surrounded by young families and feeling like a square peg in a round hole.
What Infertility Benefits are Available in TRICARE?
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
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
If You Became Infertile Due to Injury in 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 is not included:
- Fertility preservation
If you get care or medication in the civilian sector, you must use participating network providers if available. You must get preauthorization for every IVF cycle.
Infertility Treatment at Military Treatment Facilities
There are six major Military Treatment Facilities that offer a full range of fertility treatments:
- 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 significantly 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 times– up to 18 months or longer.
Infertility Treatment for Veterans
As of January 19, 2017, the Department of Veteran Affairs issued a Interim Final Rule that stated:
IVF 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, we add a new section stating that VA may provide fertility counseling and treatment using assisted reproductive technologies (ART), including IVF, to a 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.
Source: Creating a Family Radio Show/Podcast: Guide to Infertility for U.S. Military, Veterans, and Their Partners.