Why Fertility Treatments are So Out of Reach for Most Americans

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Even though infertility is on the rise, there still seems to be a lack of access to quality fertility treatments and care for most Americans. The number of couples struggling keeps climbing. Still, treatment is out of reach, for a variety of reasons, ranging from cost to location as well as other factors.

Cost

Despite there being various fertility treatment options, most come with a hefty price tag. The cost factor keeps most couples from ever attempting any kind of intervention, even if it could help them achieve pregnancy. Many Americans have little to no insurance coverage for such treatments. This means once they receive a diagnosis of infertility, they are with very few options.

Pre-Screening and Testing

BBefore any course of treatment begins, most clinics will want to verify the issues surrounding the couples infertility diagnosis. These tests vary by clinic and so do the costs involved. If the couple has insurance coverage, chances are that some of these tests will have coverage, but not all couples are so fortunate.

Basic tests could cost a couple thousands of dollars, depending which tests the specialist chooses for each couple’s situation. For example, a new visit to a specialist is around $250. If the doctor insists upon blood tests, this could mean another $300 on average. (Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, 2017)

“Basic” Fertility Treatments

Even though the word basic denotes something simple, these basic treatment options aren’t always simple or cheap. A cycle of Clomid, a fertility drug to stimulate ovulation, without IUI is around $10 per pill or about $50 for a month. This is only the cost of the medication, not ultrasounds to confirm ovulation or examinations required at the start.

A round of Clomid has couples facing a bill upwards of $3000 for the cycle. Injectable drugs, along with necessary monitoring, are more expensive, with an upper range of $6000. (Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, 2017)

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

This procedure involves the insemination of sperm into the uterus during ovulation. The sperm can be from the male partner or donor sperm depending if there are male fertility issues or not. Along with having the sperm injected into the uterus, ovulation stimulating drugs are usually administered to ensure a strong ovulatory cycle. (RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, 2017)

IUI is often used when there is cervical mucus deficiencies, sperm issues and the only option is donor sperm, or if the couple has unexplained infertility. It is also a less expensive option to In Vitro fertilisation. The average cost of IUI treatment in the United States is around $865, not including any needed medication.

If the couple requires medication for ovulation stimulation and cycle monitoring, the cost is more likely around $2300. (Fertility Authority, 2017)

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Most people have heard of IVF but not everyone understands what it is, or the cost involved. IVF is the process of joining sperm and egg in a laboratory and once an embryo forms, placing it into the uterus for pregnancy. It is possible to create many embryos in one round of IVF and freeze them for later use, which is also costly.

One single round of IVF could bear a cost of around $11000 to $12000. This is only if using the couples own egg and sperm. If the couple requires a donor for either egg or sperm or even both, the price goes up significantly. (Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, 2017)

Considering that the average yearly household income of people in their childbearing years is about $40,000 in the United States, (Martin, 2017), fertility treatment costs are almost impossible to handle for most couples. This is especially true if they have no savings to draw from or insurance coverage.

Lack of Insurance

There are only about 15 states which have a built-mandate for health insurers to cover infertility treatment costs (Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, 2017). Even then, the coverage can be short of what couples need. Some states do mandate that all testing and screening fall under the policy and even a few rounds of IVF, such as in Illinois, but that is rare.

In the States where there are no such mandates, health insurers very rarely cover fertility help. If they do, it is not usually including IVF because of the high cost. This leaves any kind of intervention for achieving pregnancy out of reach and unrealistic for most American couples.

Location

Anyone living in a rural town will know the pains of having to head into the big cities for services and products not offered in their own town. This holds true for fertility clinics as well. Most small towns are not lucky enough to have clinics or specialist’s services at their doorstep. If transportation is a challenge then getting to the closest clinic for repeated screenings, blood work, monitoring and treatments is near impossible.

Even if there is a close-by clinic, it may not be the right fit for the couple. Should they attend by proxy? This hardly seems like a good idea, since the treatment of fertility issues is a very personal situation.

In Conclusion

Fertility testing and treatments are still out of reach for many American couples today. This is despite the great advances in science and technology and our own knowledge base on many topics. The cost of treatment is preventative for many people and shuts the door for any possible hope of having a family. Spending a quarter of your yearly salary on one cycle of IVF is impractical and impossible for some.

The fact that insurers in most States are not required to cover at least a portion of the cost is also prohibitive to those with an infertility diagnosis. Even Americans who have health coverage are finding that the policies are restrictive and limited, making it a financial struggle to seek help.

Lastly, keeping clinics closer to big cities may make sense in terms of volume, it does not help those living in rural settings who would have to travel to the big city repeatedly. This could mean missing days of work, added travel expenses or even the impossibility to travel if there is no transportation available.

References

  • Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago. (2017). Fertility Treatment Costs. Retrieved from www.advancedfertility.com
  • Associates in Women’s Health Care. (2017). What is Clomid and How Does it Work? Retrieved from www.aiwh.com
  • Fertility Authority. (2017). Infertility Treatment Costs. Retrieved from www.fertilityauthority.com
  • Martin, E. (2017, August 24). Here’s How Much the Average American Earns at Every Age. Retrieved from www.CNBC.com
  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. (2017). What Is IUI? Retrieved from www.resolve.org

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