Around 17.5% of the adult population – roughly 1 in 6 worldwide – experience infertility, showing the urgent need for affordable, high-quality fertility care, according to the World Health Organization. But, since infertility treatment is usually excluded from comprehensive insurance coverage in the US, the majority of those people just cannot afford it. Infertility alone can cause significant distress and stigma. Combined with the financial hardship of paying for infertility treatment, mental and psychosocial well-being is at an increased risk.
Thankfully, larger US employers are starting to add fertility benefits to lure and retain staff. About 54% of the biggest U.S. employers covered IVF in 2022. Some businesses — but by no means many — aren’t limiting it to “infertility” and offering comparable benefits to same sex and single prospective parents.
About half the states in the US have laws mandating coverage of fertility treatments. Colorado became the latest state to have a fertility mandate at the beginning of this year. In California, Senator Caroline Menjivar introduced a bill that would require a health care service plan contract or health insurance policy that is issued, amended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2024, to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility and fertility services (Senate Bill 729).
Prosective parents are thinking outside the box to pay for IVF, surrogacy, and other treatment. GoFundMe, funds instead of wedding gifts, and loans are ways to afford the costs. Some non-profit groups such as Baby Quest Foundation, RESOLVE, the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation, and Men Having Babies are addressing the need as well.
Creating a family takes a village, both financially and emotionally. Proper insurance coverage for fertility treatments — and mental health — must be addressed for the health of our families.