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Assisted Reproduction

Republican Version Of Health Care Reform: Deny Insurance To Fertility Patients

Apparently a Republican Senate candidate believes our health care system is in crisis because the poor insurance companies are required to provide IVF coverage to fertility patients:

Brown also said he was filing legislation in Massachusetts to ease regulations on insurance companies, which he said have driven up costs. He said companies should not be required to cover so many different medical services, including in vitro fertilization.

Massachusetts is one of the handful of states that actually mandate infertility coverage. It would be a shame if Brown, motivated solely by a conservative political agenda rather than any concern for real health care reform, is successful. If you live in Massachusetts, I would strongly encourage you to email this State Senator and voice your opposition. Brown can be reached at Scott.P.Brown@state.ma.us.

UPDATE: Since this entry was posted, I was referred to this excellent blog entry over at Hanna Wept, Sarah Laughed. Here is her compelling email to Senator Brown:

Dear Senator Brown,

I recently read in yesterday’s Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/12/brown_health_ca.html) that you intend to propose legislation that would reduce the amount of coverage currently required to be provided by Massachusetts insurance companies, particularly with regard to the coverage of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Senator Brown, I cannot express enough how detrimental this would be not only your constituents, but to the greater scope of infertility treatment coverage in the nation. Massachusetts has perhaps some of the most comprehensive health care regulations regarding infertility treatment in the nation, and to revoke that coverage would be devastating to thousands of couples and families in this state. The cost of IVF can approach upwards of $30,000 for a single cycle, and for a couple that’s counting on their insurance company to cover their clinical costs to suddenly lose that security mid-cycle is not only financially disastrous, but emotionally destructive as well.

As an elected official in Massachusetts, infertility affects over 150,000 of your constituents, according to the CDC’s 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. Yet, this isn’t something that we would necessarily write to you about. For many of us, we won’t even share these concerns outside of our closest family and friends. Some of us never find the words or the ways to share it with others, and live with a deeply stressful, private struggle. I, however, have chosen to remain silent no longer, and have channeled my fear and frustration into advocacy for an issue about which I deeply care.

Senator Brown, allow me to share my story with you, so that you may understand why insurance coverage for IVF is so important. Nine months ago, I began having symptoms wildly atypical for an otherwise healthy 26 year old woman in her childbearing years. My husband and I had no plans for children until a few years from now, once we were more settled financially. Taking the proactive approach about these strange symptoms, I sought out my doctor, who delivered a bombshell of a diagnosis: premature ovarian failure (POF). Formerly known as premature menopause, my reproductive system as essentially shut down, in a process I shouldn’t be experiencing for another two decades. At 26 years old, I had lost my ability to be able to have my own children. At 26 years old, I was married for just over a year and had no plans to even start trying to have children for another two to three years, and I was told I would never be able to achieve pregnancy naturally. The only hope of building a family, I was told, as I sat there speechless and shell-shocked in my doctor’s office, was to use donor eggs in conjunction with IVF or to pursue adoption.

It has been a wild year as my husband and I have been completely rethinking everything we thought we knew about how we would build a family together. Just days after my diagnosis, my husband was laid off. We moved quickly to transfer insurance coverage through my employer. As we began researching our options further, IVF has appeared more fiscally lucrative to our situation, particularly on one income right now. Dollar for dollar, IVF and domestic adoption cost about the same, in the $30,000 range. What has made IVF particularly attractive is that currently in the state of Massachusetts, that cost is nearly cut in half thanks to the state-mandated infertility coverage regulations.

Every decision my husband and I have made about our careers in the last nine months has been centered on the fact that we need to remain in Massachusetts, because of the very coverage that’s in place. Senator Brown, if you propose legislation that would discontinue coverage for IVF, I simply cannot afford to have children, IVF or otherwise. This legislation would take away my ability to a basic human right: the right to build a family. The next best solution for us would be to uproot and move to another state with the next best health care regulations in place (in this case, New Jersey or Connecticut). In this economy, looking for a new job isn’t easy, to put it plainly: just ask my husband, who is still unemployed after nearly a year since being laid off. How can this be something you endorse – legislation that denies individuals the right to build families or drives them out of the state to find appropriate coverage?

Senator Brown, I implore you not pursue this change in legislation. As a candidate for the Senate seat left by the late Honorable Ted Kennedy, it seems contrary to the legacy of progressive health care reform and support left in his passing.

In the Boston Globe article you state, “My primary responsibility is to ensure that the people of Massachusetts get the best value for their dollar.” How can this be possible when you intend to propose cutting the coverage upon which the people of Massachusetts depend? Perhaps your rationale is that these procedures, like mammograms and minimum maternity stay lengths (as you also intend to propose coverage reductions), aren’t relevant to the entire population of the state. Perhaps infertile women and couples, women at risk for breast cancer, and new mothers make up only a small portion of your constituents, despite the fact that 3.2 million women make up 52% of the state’s population. A reduction in these vital services is quite plainly cutting off the nose despite the face.

Senator Brown, I urge you to reconsider your position on health care coverage reduction in the state of Massachusetts, and I encourage you to contact RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association (www.resolve.org) or its regional chapter here in Waltham, RESOLVE of the Bay State (www.resolveofthebaystate.org) for more information about why infertility coverage matters. I also welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue personally with you and your staff.

Senator Brown, I don’t want to feel like my chances of having a family are being taken away from me for a second time.



14 comments for “Republican Version Of Health Care Reform: Deny Insurance To Fertility Patients”

  • So if it was once called premature menopause, why aren’t we covering alternative treatment to treat menopausal symptoms.

  • what does they mean about denying insurance fertility?? it is a big help if ever it is implemented.

  • Independent Thought Police

    While I am very sorry to hear this woman’s story, I remain opposed to mandating fertility treatments. As this writer acknowledges, infertility treatments cost tens of thousands of dollars. Somehow this woman believes that her natural right to have a family translates into a “natural” right to have insurance companies and everyone who purhcases insurance pay for that decision. Though early menopause is a tragedy, it is not a matter of life or death. This woman is not dying or suffering from a debilitating disease, though she is certainly suffering from an emotional disappointment. She is unable to reproduce without the help of technology, but that does not mean she has a right to that technology. I cannot help but think that if a woman cannot afford fertility treatment wihout insurance and her husband is also out of work, then getting pregnant and rearing children may be a selfish, impractical decision. We live in a culture that holds an almost religious belief in parenthood, particularly biological parenthood. This woman seems to have fully bought into this belief system. Some of you may find my comments insensitive. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but I don’t believe an inability to give birth is a legitimate medical problem. This woman wants children in order to feel better about herself, in order to alleviate her sadness, and in order to fulfill her life’s ambition. She does not want fertility treatments because she will die or suffer unbearable physical pain without them. I simply believe that insurance should be for things that are directly related to alleviating physical suffering and premature death brought on by bodily illness and disease. Pre-mature menopause may be classified as an official disease, but women can find other means to have children. If we don’t mandate insurance coverage for cosmetic procedures, which can certainly improve an individual’s feelings of self worth and esteem, then we should not be mandating fertility treatments which also do the same thing.

    • Marilynn Huff

      Well when the human body is working properly its possible to produce offspring with a member of the opposite sex. To the extent that modern medicine is suppose to help the human body work properly or at least gives the human body a work around so the person can achieve the same goals as if their parts were working properly, I don’t think that’s excessive. Fertilizing a woman’s own egg outside her body and then returning it to her own body does treat her infertility which is a medical condition. Similarly any prescriptions that would treat her infertility I would consider treatment of her medical condition.
      The use of another woman’s eggs however would do nothing to make the patient more fertile. That is not a fertility treatment. I don’t think that ought to be something anyone has a “right” to. Do we even have a “right” to insurance in this country? I’m not kidding, I pay for mine and I suppose I could get a fancy policy that covered more elective types of procedures, I really don’t know.

      • What if you need an artificial heart? Or a kidney transplant? The use of donor eggs may be the only way to “treat” a woman’s infertility. Why are you making such a distinction based upon the involvement of a third party?

        • Denise

          Very true.

        • marilynn

          A donated egg continues to operate in support of the healthy reproductive system of the body it came from. The donated egg if fertilized reproduces the donor not the recipient. A donated lung stops helping the donor breathe and starts helping the recipient breath. A donated egg does nothing whatsoever to support the reproductive function of the recipient. The donor merely gets someone to carry her pregnancy and raise her child. A donated egg may be the only human tissue that actually continues to function in support of the donor rather than in support of the recipient.

          • marilynn

            Interesting thing about donated organs is that they never actually become the organs of the bodies they are transplanted into. Recipients had their own organs and now they are using the organs of another person. The organs retain their dna like a vin number on a vehicle part. The dna does not mix with the dna of the recipient. But in any event at least the donated organ ceases to support the donor and starts supporting the recipients bodily functions. Sadly the donated egg does not help the recipient reproduce herself and does nothing to help her become fertile but a donated lung would help a recipient breathe. See the difference?

    • Denise

      Insurance covers many ailments that are not considered life threatening. This woman is suffering from an ailment of the reproductive system. Having a child is more than just a quest to raise your self esteem. For most of us, it is a psycho-biological desire that has been hardwired into us. There are many people who have strong self esteem and simply want the joy of raising a child to do their part in adding to the world. A child is your legacy. I feel sorry for the people in your life who share your space. To me, it seems something is void in the deepest place that matters. However, I’m quite certain your insurance company will cover your illness.

  • Why are we covering for a woman to be treated from a functional medicine point of view instead of giving a woman drugs for this. What is the root cause of the issue.

  • There are no easy answers, and it hurts to hear how so many suffer. There are some conditions that seem to defy modern medicine. The body has a remarkable ability to heal if the proper support is provided. But health is not the focus of the system.

  • Pingback: The Spin Doctor | Should IVF Only Be Available To The Wealthy? - The Spin Doctor()

  • IndependentThoughtPolice


    You have gone out of your way to insult and demean me because I do not share your opinion. You suggest I am mentally ill because I have a different perspective. Why do you resort to psychological and mental abuse to make your point? You come across as a compassionate and caring person, but when someone does not agree with you, you demean and denigrate the other human being? Why is it necessary to tell me that I am not even worthy of meaningful human contact or connections? You do not know me but yet you make assumptions that are hate-based and filled with contempt. But, I should not be surprised. This is common. Are you someone’s mother? Do you treat your children like this when they anger you and disagree with you? It would not surprise me if you did. Clearly, by your insults, you have internalized this culture’s violence and need to dehumanize others. Are you really that filled with hostility and hatred that you cannot see that you are abusive and cruel? Perhaps my opinion stems from existential concerns and considerations that you do not share? Of course, it appears that is enough to generate such a vicious attack.

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