In news that will surprise no one that has undergone fertility treatments, they are expensive. While planning for my upcoming IVF cycle, today I found out that the cost to genetically test our embryos was out of our range. I’d thought, perhaps naively so, that cost was already included in what I’d paid out of pocket.
Before I explain/complain about that, I will say that I am remarkably lucky in that my health insurance plan through my employer is very generous to cover a lot of my treatment. My company values family and that extends to health care for infertility, paid time off and other family-expansion options like adoption assistance. I know I am lucky. Having said that, I am still relatively new to the company, so these incredible benefits are new to me, too. My last health insurance provider (a policy that I shared through my husband’s employer) didn’t cover any fertility options, so our first year of treatment was paid entirely out of pocket. Four IUI cycles, meds, labs, ultrasounds, a D&C… the list goes on. It added up quickly, as any couple in a similar situation knows well. Much of my “disposable” income last year went somehow to my fertility doctor inserting something into my vagina.
Now, with new (superior) coverage and another failed pregnancy behind me, we decided to take things up a notch with IVF. The new plan with my doctor includes what could be referred to as the “base model.” Standards labs and medical screenings pre-IVF, a brief class on how to inject the required medications (note: not the medications themselves, they are separate), monitoring, egg retrieval, egg insemination (half traditional and half ICSI) and embryo transfer. But because the cause of my first miscarriage was a chromosomal abnormality, we were advised (and agreed) to perform genetic testing on the embryos prior to transfer. This bonus feature helped me to alleviate some of the anxiety I feel about trying IVF, primarily in that we would be essentially guaranteed a viable embryo would be transferred. After two miscarriages, a little security felt necessary.
Today, though, I was informed that my insurance, generous as it may be, does not cover this screening and is, therefore, off the table. You know how in old cartoons characters’ eyes will bug out? That was me about an hour ago.
Financially speaking, the added cost of this is totally reasonable to pay out of pocket for a lot of people (I’d imagine). But, for a couple that lives paycheck to paycheck (and whose savings had previously gone to non-covered attempts to get pregnant), it is out of reach to afford it after the out of pocket cost of the base model, plus required medications. And for as lucky as I feel to even be able to do IVF (it would have been financially impossible for us without the added assistance of my company’s insurance), I still want to scream that I’m not someone who can get pregnant without medical intervention — the “free” way, as I often refer to it. While fertility clinics will likely be the reason I one day have a baby, they are an absurd money drain sometimes.
The removal of that genetic testing safety net is quite a disappointment, but, as my optimistic husband reminds me, not insurmountable. Without the testing, the embryos can be transferred shortly after their insemination, and not having to wait until the following cycle. So, perk there. And I trust that the team of professionals handling my tiny future children will use their best judgement and experience in choosing the lucky one that will meet my uterus. All my dolla bills (not to mention my hopes and dreams…) are counting on them.
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