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Assisted Reproduction

An Argument Against Government Mandated Infertility Coverage

A commenter to this blog disagrees with my take on insurance coverage for infertility patients:

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.


5 comments for “An Argument Against Government Mandated Infertility Coverage”

  • a

    My first question is, who defines premature death? Why is my insurance money being wasted on a lifelong smoker who has emphysema, COPD, or lung cancer? They have been aware of the risks for over 20 years. Why do we perform angioplasty and bypass surgery? Heart disease is clearly how these people are supposed to die. The scale for who deserves treatment and who doesn’t in this commenter’s opinion is ridiculously limited. By that rationale, most allergies shouldn’t be routinely treated – they’re inconvenient and uncomfortable, but not painful or life-threatening. And God forbid that mental health care be covered. Insurance certainly shouldn’t be covering things like prosthetics and hospice – those are just things that make life a little better and that’s optional.

    Secondarily, mandating IVF coverage is really the only way to alleviate some of the cost of creating a family. It’s not like insurance would cover adoption – there is no medical issue there. And by saying that if you can’t afford it you shouldn’t do it, you are then discriminating against the infertile…because nobody asks a fertile male and female whether they can afford to have a child before they have sex.

    It’s extremely frustrating to read this sort of viewpoint, because it seems pretty clear that it comes from someone who has not experienced fertility issues.

    • Independent Thought Police

      I just want to clarify a few things. It is assumed that I don’t have any personal experience with infertility. That’s an assumption. I am not psychologically or socially invested in having biological children, which informs my view of IVF. My primary issue, which I realize did not come across in my post, is that since insurance premiums are always tied to benefits, I believe people should have a right to choose which benefits they pay for in the form of premiums. That would mean that people like me who don’t want IVF and don’t want to pay for it, would be able to opt out of paying for that benefit when we purchase insurance policies. For me, health insurance is for emergencies and to help pay for expensive tests and procedures after I’ve paid a certain dollar amount. That’s the type of insurance policy I would buy. NO frills. Those who want more should be able to buy those policies. From a values standpoint, people who don’t want abortions shouldn’t have to pay for that benefit. But people who do or who think it’s a valuable benefit, should be able to purchase policies that include it. People who don’t drink or do drugs shouldn’t have to pay for drug and alcohol treatment services. Those who think it may be useful, should have the option to purchase it. We live in a capitalist democratic society and the decisions we make–even regarding our health and bodies– are determined by how much money we have and the values we hold. Also, I don’t agree that Erectile Dysfunction treatments should be mandated Medicare benefits. Again, who says this is a life threatening condition or a physically painful disease or even a disease? Indeed, there are many things Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover, such as dentures, that I believe they should. Dentures, for example, would make it possible for elderly people to do things many of us may take for granted, like literally eating solid foods. Also, allergies can be very painful and life threatening as well as merely “uncomfortable.” Allergies certainly can and do interfere with physical functioning. My argument is against mandating that everyone buy the same insurance benefits. People who want IVF should be able to purchase that benefit and those who don’t shouldn’t be forced to spend their money on something they won’t use just because it makes someone else’s insurance policy less expensive. I also don’t believe lifelong smokers and drinkers who ignored all health warnings should be prime candidates for lung and liver transplants paid for by other people, but that’s a debate for another day.

  • Paraphrasing with a different “medical ailment”:

    “Some of you may find my comments insensitive. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but I don’t believe an inability to get an erection is a legitimate medical problem. This man wants to perform intercourse in order to feel better about himself, in order to alleviate his sadness, and in order to fulfill his life’s ambition. He does not want a penile implant because he will die or suffer unbearable physical pain without it. 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.”

    Oh yes, please do try *that* argument when it’s a fact that a penile implant surgery for a man with physical ED can run easily from $10,000 to $30,000 AND it is covered by Medicare and private insurance.

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  • Cathie2027

    I don’t think anyone who is fat, smokes, drinks, does drugs, and is generally engaging in unhealthy habits should get medical coverage either. Same for ED. Why the hell should my premiums go up because you decided you can’t control your eating or eating sh*tty food, or do drugs or drink excessively? If you cannot pay for the “Fix it’ procedures that you CREATED YOURSELF as a result of your bad habits, then you shouldn’t be covered.

    I eat healthy and spend a lot of money on organic foods, also exercise, so why should I pay the same premiums as the person who doesn’t? That being said, I support mandated coverage for infertility- it’s the one thing that people DID NOT do to themselves, it should be an option offered to everyone.

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