Should Infertility Treatments Be Getting Cheaper?



“I want to hear about how they are making fertility treatments more affordable.”

I saw this quote on Facebook a few days ago, and  feel the need to ask the question:

Should infertility treatments be getting cheaper?

It’s probably a silly question, because my experience with anything involving medical expense is that they seem to have an uncanny ability to keep rising.

Having never been a medical professional, I can only guess the reasons why: higher insurance costs, the pending overhaul of healthcare, more research and development for better treatments, are just a few of the likely culprits behind rising or certainly not declining costs of infertility cycles.

We’ve been out of the active IVF game for over 11 years now, but based on what support group members say, the costs are about the same, although creative packages of multiple cycles seem to offer a cost cutting alternative, although they require payment for most if not all of the cycles up front (not including meds).

With nearly four decades of IVF research in the medical journals, it does seem like some of the costs should have gone down for stuff that has become routine and standard for almost all clinics.

If the costs aren’t cheaper, it seems that the protocols and best practices should have at least evolved to a point where more insurance companies should be offering some infertility coverage?

I have a hard time with the argument that infertility coverage is still too expensive to make the grade as an ‘essential health benefit.’

The financial burden of multiple cycles puts a lot of pressure on couples to push the envelope to maximize their odds of success (we put in 8 embryos for one IVF!).

The consequence?

Multiple births and their associated expenses (which I’m sure run far higher than the insurance coverage would run for infertility procedures).

I remember cursing out John McCain when he made a comment that it would be cost prohibitive to mandate infertility coverage.

Unless the studies on this topic have changed, everything I read indicated maybe a few dollars per month premium increases would result if it were implemented nationally.

Of course now with benchmark plans and essential benefits already pretty much outlines for implementation of the new Affordable Health Care Act, it seems unlikely that infertility will make its way into plans in states where infertility isn’t already mandated.

Michael Cahill wrote a great article about how infertility coverage will, or won’t be affected by the new healthcare system:

Maybe I’m looking at infertility coverage from the standpoint of technological economics: when the technology first comes out, it’s always expensive (like the $800 VCRs back in the 80s).

As more companies provide the technology, and it becomes more streamlined and efficient, costs go down, and it becomes more affordable to more people.

I know that’s the oversimplification of the century, but it seems like something has got to give at some point.

Either allow for a slight bump in health insurance and add it is as an essential benefit, or reduce the costs so couples don’t have to make the choice between financial despair and parenthood.











One Response to Should Infertility Treatments Be Getting Cheaper?

  1. You actually cursed out John McCain?! I don’t know why(ok, maybe I do) but I think that’s so cool! My respect for you just went up. As a former politico, I can definitely appreciate an exchange like that between a constituent and his Senator.

    These politicians on both sides of aisle seem very out of touch on infertility matters. I thought maybe some in the GOP could get on board with tax credits (if I were in the House or Senate, I’d sign on as a co-sponsor), but somehow on this one, they aren’t as eager to let the people keep more of their money.

    I would have thought that competition would drive down IVF costs. From what I have read, plastic surgery procedures are actually among the most affordable medical treatments due to the fact that insurance doesn’t cover them and prices are driven strictly by competitive market forces. I thought the same might be true for IVF. I am baffled by the economics of it all.

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