When I signed up for health insurance with my job, I looked with some interest at the maternity coverage. I figured it wouldn’t be too long before my husband and I would want to start a family, so I was pleased to see that we could expect very few out-of-pocket costs for prenatal visits and for labor and delivery. It never crossed my mind to check the insurance policy for infertility coverage. When we neared the one-year mark in our attempts to conceive a child, I went back to that insurance booklet to discover – to my surprise and delight – that our HMO provided coverage for all the diagnostic procedures, medicines, and treatments for infertility (excluding those still deemed experimental). I later found out that this wasn’t just the luck of the insurance draw, but that my state mandates insurance coverage for infertility – up to four IVF attempts for a first child, plus an additional two attempts for a second child.
Without insurance, we could not have pursued medical treatment of our infertility. I am so grateful that we have not had to face financial pressures on top of the emotional, physical, marital, and spiritual difficulties that pile on month after month of failing to conceive. As a young couple fresh out of college, we already had a load of debt from school and car loans. A loan for the purpose of building our family would have been, sadly, unthinkable. Thankfully, the Illinois laws that mandate insurance coverage for infertility meant that we could freely pursue the medical options before us. I remember getting the large box of injections and pills for our first IVF attempt and noting with relief that we only had to pay about 10% of the $2000 price tag. Though we have not achieved pregnancy through the IUIs or IVFs we have done so far, we have hope for our remaining two insurance-covered IVF cycles. And at least the multiple negative results of the past two years have not carried the added injury of costly invoices.
So many people in so many different life situations face infertility. The media tends to focus on women at the end of their fertile years who suddenly realize that their child-bearing years are drawing to an end. The implication is that those women made choices to pursue things other than children and now are reaping their reward. But infertility is not something anyone chooses. We certainly did not. We began trying to conceive when we were each 25 years old, only a couple years into our marriage. We wanted (and still want) to be young parents, and we want our parents to be able to actively enjoy their grandchildren. Medical problems have postponed the start of our family, but insurance coverage means that the dream might still come true.