Financing Fertility Options in the U.S.

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Senator Kirsten Gillbrand (D-NY) recently reintroduced a Congressional bill that would create a tax credit for out of pocket infertility medical treatment.

"Thousands of women struggle with infertility each year, with insurance companies denying access to treatments," said Gillibrand spokesperson Angie Hu. "Senator Gillibrand believes this legislation will provide women and couples with more options and bring the dream of raising a family within reach."

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It's not that alternative fertility options for people who cannot easily conceive a baby on their own – couples diagnosed with infertility, or gay male couples seeking a surrogate – are expensive, or not worth the money, says Barbara Collura, president of the non-profit national infertility association RESOLVE.

The problem is simply that the vast majority of insurance plans will not cover the hefty cost of assisted reproductive technology options like in vitro fertilization, or IVF, or a surrogate.

"It's a financial burden because you are paying out of pocket," said Collura. "You already have a lot of tension and stress and emotional and relationship upheaval that you are dealing with, and then you have to start thinking about making these really frustrating financial decisions."

About 10% of women, from ages 15 to 44, in the United States have difficulty getting or staying pregnant, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – about one third of infertility problems are attributable to the male partner, while another third are attributable to the female.

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IVF is only one option that people experiencing infertility might be advised by their doctors to consider – one that Collura herself underwent after she received a diagnosis of blocked fallopian tubes when trying to conceive in the late 1990s. But IVF did not work for Collura, and she wound up adopting her son from Guatemala.