“Should IVF Be Affordable to All?” – Fact Check of the Newsweek Article

by Davina Fankhauser
President - Fertility Within Reach

Newsweek’s The Daily Beast contributed an article focusing on a hot topic: “Should IVF Be Affordable for All?” We think the article is good, but it has some questionable quotes.  We applaud the attention brought to this important subject.  However, an article is only as good as its sources.  Therefore, we are contributing our own Fact Check to ensure the public is receiving the most accurate information and providing supportive resources.  There is much we would like to respond to in this article but we will limit ourselves to address a few hot topics.

HOT TOPIC 1:

David Fleming, director of the Center for Health Ethics at the University of Missouri, says the unfortunate part of making IVF more widespread is its increased ethical stakes, such as those surrounding more premature births.

FACT:

Insurance coverage can avoid high-cost multiple births (often resulting in premature births). In comparison to states without an insurance mandate, states with mandated infertility insurance have:

o A lower percentage of pregnancies with three or more fetuses;

o A lower number of embryos, per cycle, transferred into a woman’s uterus

o Lower rates of multiple births.


SOURCES:

  • Jain T, Harlow BL, Hornstein MD. Insurance coverage and outcomes of in vitro fertilization. N Engl J Med 2002;347(9):661–666).
  • Reynolds MA, Schieve LA, Jeng G, Peterson HB.  Does insurance coverage decrease the risk for multiple births associated with assisted reproductive technology? Fertility and Sterility 2008 2003 Jul;80(1):16-23.
  • Henne MB, Bundorf MK.  Insurance mandates and trends in infertility treatments. Fertility and Sterility Jan;89(1):66-73. Epub 2007 May 7.
  • American Society of Reproductive Medicine.  2007 SART Data Posted; Triplet and Higher Order Multiples from ART Are Below Two Percent. www.asrm.org. October 15, 2009.

 

HOT TOPIC 2:
David Fleming also said, “IVF, with all due respect—is it a question of need or a question of want?”  Newsweek adds, “Whether infertility should be classified as a disease or a socially constructed need is a dilemma at the center of this debate.”

FACT:
The debate is over.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an Action Plan for Infertility.
  • The U. S. Supreme Court held in 1998 that infertility is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

SOURCES:

  •   The American Society for Reproductive Medicine
  •   The Department of Health and Human Services
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The US Supreme Court

 

HOT TOPIC 3:
David Adamson, a past president of the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology, disagrees that the number of reproductive endocrinologists is low and the demand is high. “There is not a long wait to see reproductive endocrinologists,” he wrote in an e-mail. “At this time the supply is greater than the demand.”  There is a reason for this….

FACT:

  • There are more than 68 million people of reproductive age living in the United States living without Infertility health benefits.
  • 1 in 6 couples experience infertility
  • 50% of the US population has an annual household income of $50,000 or less.
  • There is not a long wait to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist because the cost of Infertility treatment can be 1/3 of patients’ yearly income, not because there isn’t a need.

SOURCES:

  • 2010 US Census
  • Dr. Thomas Toth, Director, Vincent In Vitro Fertilization Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital

 

The concept of discounted rates for fertility treatment such as IVF is NOT few and far between.  Even in states with insurance mandates to coverage Infertility treatment, some clinics offer cash prices (approximately $8500) because they understand small businesses and self-insured employers are exempt from State Mandates, leaving a large population without health benefits.

  • Patients need to call around and ask about pricing.
  • If the clinic says there is no cash price, you can ask “Why would a patient need to pay more than what an insurance company reimburses?”

The Newsweek article states, “Until insurance companies decide to broadly cover IVF treatments, either because of more vocal demand from the public or spreading state mandates, it will be up to clinics like Fertility Partnership to help women like Rhodes and Campbell.”

We agree with Dr.  Simckes of Fertility Partnership who says, “I believe that the right to build a family should not be just a luxury of the rich.”  This is where YOU come in.  Fertility Within Reach offers step-by-step instructions to follow a Path to Empowerment and break down barriers to Infertility health benefits.  It is the vocal demand that can make all the difference.  You are your own best advocate and we are here to support you.

 

           

 

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Davina Fankhauser

President - Fertility Within Reach

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