Infertility treatment is expensive—very very expensive. Especially once you move into assisted reproduction and in vitro fertilization. It feels all the more expensive to those suffering from this disease because few insurance companies in the US cover the cost. Many of us in the infertility advocacy world have argued that we need all insurance companies to cover fertility treatment, but it feels like we are shouting in the dark. And really, if you think about it, insurance is ultimately a method of cost sharing and why should the majority help defray the cost for the minority–albeit not a small minority at one in eight US couples? Beyond basic human decency and the fairness of not discriminating against one specific disease, the reason insurance should cover infertility treatment is that it makes hard economic sense—it saves money!
You know me—nothing excites me more than the words “research” or “study”. So my geeky heart started to race when I saw this study out of Canada on the significant cost savings resulting from insurance coverage of fertility treatment. The study was focused on public funding/insurance in one Canadian province, but the basic findings are applicable to the private insurance system in the US as well.
The study was funded by Generations of Hope (GOH): The Fertility Assistance Fund with the purpose of determining to what extent the cost of public funding of IVF could be offset by a savings in medical and social costs as a result of a reduced rate of multiple births. They found that insurance coverage (in the form of public financed insurance) for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments would improve health outcomes and save the health care system millions.
Specifically, the researchers found that over the first five years insurance coverage for IVF would result in:
- An overall 60% reduction in the rate of multiple births through IVF
- 44% fewer twins and 90% fewer triplets 585 fewer premature babies born
- A reduction in prenatal, delivery and neonatal costs of about $29 million
- A reduction in long term disability costs of approximately $156 million
- A net savings to the healthcare system of $78 million
I find this research fascinating. For the record, I think the infertility medical community in the US needs to do more to reduce the twin rate with IVF, but even with a higher than ideal twin rate for IVF, it is still better than the alternative of medicated artificial insemination.
We all need to push for each US state to mandate that insurance companies that sell insurance in that state include coverage for infertility treatment, including a specific number of cycles of IVF. And even easier, and perhaps more effective, each and every one of us who is lucky enough to be on a group insurance plan through our work should ask our employers to add fertility treatment to their group plan. For more information on this issue, listen to this great Creating a Family show where we talked about this issue and go to the Resolve Advocacy page for more on what you can do.Image credit: Aiden Blizzard