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Feb 16, 2020

Chrissy's advice:

What many don’t know is that IVF isn’t covered by any federal health plan. And only a few health plans cover a portion of IUI. Some of the federal health plans used to cover part of IVF, but IVF was dropped after a change was made in 2017.

Infertility isn’t life-threatening, but a recent study concluded that women with infertility felt as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, or recovering from a heart attack. In another study 50% of women said that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives.

Infertility is a disease according to the World Health Organization, and is recognized as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Most organizations and supervisors don’t know this.

Strategies:

  • Once I understood infertility was a disability, I requested – and was approved for - a reasonable accommodation. I knew there were days I’d need to telework depending on how the medications were affecting me. I couldn’t travel as often either as I needed to stick close to home for injections and frequently doctor’s visits.

 

  • I reached out to the women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) and offered to be a panelist and/or lead a session on infertility. The ERG set up a brown bag lunch on the topic for its members. It was a great way to start breaking down the stigma around infertility, in addition to connecting with others experiencing – or who have experienced – infertility to share resources and the like.
  • Outside of work I practiced yoga and regularly went to an acupuncturist. We tend to live from the neck up, but fertility requires you to be in your body. Infertility can feel like your body has betrayed you. Both yoga and acupuncture helped me make peace with my body before and after treatments.
  • Have a general idea of when you will stop treatment if it isn’t working. IVF is often the last chance a woman has to get pregnant. Feelings of desperation can quickly set in when a round doesn’t work. You want to keep trying. It is easy to lose all of your savings and quickly fall into debt doing round after round of IVF.
  • Find people who can support you through the process. Many fertility clinics have support groups. There are a number of support groups on Facebook too. Sharing your infertility status with family and friends is a double-edged sword. You may get questions about why you aren’t adopting, or well-meaning friends or family try to fix the problem by saying things like “it will happen when you relax.” These aren’t supportive questions, nor are they helpful. There are many reasons women and couples pursue IVF, and those reasons are personal. In my case, we looked into domestic adoption and were told by the adoption agency that we were too old.

What advice do you have for other feds experiencing the same thing?

Cost is a huge consideration. The cost of the treatment is often separate from the cost of the medications for the treatment. To give you an idea, IVF costs between $12,000-$15,000 plus $3,000-$5,000 in medications. We are talking between $15,000 to $20,000 for each attempt.

 

  • I used the shared-risk program at Shady Grove Fertility. I paid more upfront, but if IVF didn’t work, we would get our money back minus the cost of medications. My husband and I paid just under $30,000, which was a higher because our treatment included genetic tests for our embryos. That isn’t the best strategy for everyone, but it worked for me. I knew of one fed that went to CNY Fertility Center in New York. CNY’s goal is to keep IVF affordable. So instead of paying upwards of $20,000 per round (which includes the treatment, meds and monitoring), you pay closer to $10,000. There is waiting list can be long though.

 

  • I tapped into my Thift Savings Plan to take out a personal loan to cover the cost.

 

  • I have heard of some feds working at Starbucks part-time. Starbucks offers health insurance for its part-time employees, and that health insurance covers IVF and IUI.

 

  • I believe 10 states now mandate that insurance companies cover the cost of fertility treatments. Maryland is one of those states. I knew of a fed living in Maryland who was able to get a second health insurance plan that covered IVF through her state’s exchange program. The health insurance plan was expensive, but it was cheaper than paying for the procedure out of pocket.
  • Talk to your reasonable accommodation coordinator about your options and needs. In additional to telework and minimizing my travel for work, I temporarily worked a compressed schedule.
  • Don’t hesitate to use your employer assistance program if you find yourself needing to talk to a therapist. It depends on the program, but I believe all EAPs include a number of free counseling sessions.
  • Advocate for change with your HR office. The more women ask for the benefit to come back, the more likely it will. Staying silent only hurts us and those that come after us that need fertility treatments.

 

Health Insurance:

  • None of the plans cover IVF, but a few plans cover some of the medications. I had the Mail Handlers Standard plan and they covered all but one prescription. I’ve heard Scott & White may cover some of the drugs for IVF as well.
  • Some plans cover a portion of IUI. My understanding is that is that Kaiser covers 50% of IUI. CareFirst covers part of IUI as well.
  • Do your research though! I recommend attending the health fairs during open season and ask about fertility benefits. Find out which plans cover what. It will save you hours of research online.
  • If your plan doesn’t cover the meds, shop around. I found the prices of meds to be drastically different from one company to the next, and one prescription to the next. We used MDR Pharmacy for the meds not covered by our healthy plan. I found manufactures coupons online too. That saved us a few hundred dollars.

Resources:

  • Resolve: The National Infertility Association - national patient advocacy organization. They have the most up-to-date resources and information about infertility. They also have support groups you can tap into it, and advocate for all experiencing infertility. 
  • Other feds that have gone through the process – share resources and provide support

What many don’t know is that IVF isn’t covered by any federal health plan. And only a few health plans cover a portion of IUI. Some of the federal health plans used to cover part of IVF, but IVF was dropped after a change was made in 2017.

 

Infertility isn’t life-threatening, but a recent study concluded that women with infertility felt as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, or recovering from a heart attack. In another study 50% of women said that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives.

Infertility is a disease according to the World Health Organization, and is recognized as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Most organizations and supervisors don’t know this.

Strategies:

  • Once I understood infertility was a disability, I requested – and was approved for - a reasonable accommodation. I knew there were days I’d need to telework depending on how the medications were affecting me. I couldn’t travel as often either as I needed to stick close to home for injections and frequently doctor’s visits.
  • I reached out to the women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) and offered to be a panelist and/or lead a session on infertility. The ERG set up a brown bag lunch on the topic for its members. It was a great way to start breaking down the stigma around infertility, in addition to connecting with others experiencing – or who have experienced – infertility to share resources and the like.
  • Outside of work I practiced yoga and regularly went to an acupuncturist. We tend to live from the neck up, but fertility requires you to be in your body. Infertility can feel like your body has betrayed you. Both yoga and acupuncture helped me make peace with my body before and after treatments.
  • Have a general idea of when you will stop treatment if it isn’t working. IVF is often the last chance a woman has to get pregnant. Feelings of desperation can quickly set in when a round doesn’t work. You want to keep trying. It is easy to lose all of your savings and quickly fall into debt doing round after round of IVF.
  • Find people who can support you through the process. Many fertility clinics have support groups. There are a number of support groups on Facebook too. Sharing your infertility status with family and friends is a double-edged sword. You may get questions about why you aren’t adopting, or well-meaning friends or family try to fix the problem by saying things like “it will happen when you relax.” These aren’t supportive questions, nor are they helpful. There are many reasons women and couples pursue IVF, and those reasons are personal. In my case, we looked into domestic adoption and were told by the adoption agency that we were too old.

 

Cost is a huge consideration. The cost of the treatment is often separate from the cost of the medications for the treatment. To give you an idea, IVF costs between $12,000-$15,000 plus $3,000-$5,000 in medications. We are talking between $15,000 to $20,000 for each attempt.

 

  • I used the shared-risk program at Shady Grove Fertility. I paid more upfront, but if IVF didn’t work, we would get our money back minus the cost of medications. My husband and I paid just under $30,000, which was a higher because our treatment included genetic tests for our embryos. That isn’t the best strategy for everyone, but it worked for me.

 

  • I knew of one fed that went to CNY Fertility Center in New York. CNY’s goal is to keep IVF affordable. So instead of paying upwards of $20,000 per round (which includes the treatment, meds and monitoring), you pay closer to $10,000. There is waiting list can be long though.

 

  • I tapped into my Thift Savings Plan to take out a personal loan to cover the cost.

 

  • I have heard of some feds working at Starbucks part-time. Starbucks offers health insurance for its part-time employees, and that health insurance covers IVF and IUI.

 

  • I believe 10 states now mandate that insurance companies cover the cost of fertility treatments. Maryland is one of those states. I knew of a fed living in Maryland who was able to get a second health insurance plan that covered IVF through her state’s exchange program. The health insurance plan was expensive, but it was cheaper than paying for the procedure out of pocket.

Talk to your reasonable accommodation coordinator about your options and needs. In additional to telework and minimizing my travel for work, I temporarily worked a compressed schedule.

  • Don’t hesitate to use your employer assistance program if you find yourself needing to talk to a therapist. It depends on the program, but I believe all EAPs include a number of free counseling sessions.
  • Advocate for change with your HR office. The more women ask for the benefit to come back, the more likely it will. Staying silent only hurts us and those that come after us that need fertility treatments.

 

Health Insurance:

 

  • None of the plans cover IVF, but a few plans cover some of the medications. I had the Mail Handlers Standard plan and they covered all but one prescription. I’ve heard Scott & White may cover some of the drugs for IVF as well.

 

  • Some plans cover a portion of IUI. My understanding is that is that Kaiser covers 50% of IUI. CareFirst covers part of IUI as well.

 

  • Do your research though! I recommend attending the health fairs during open season and ask about fertility benefits. Find out which plans cover what. It will save you hours of research online.

 

  • If your plan doesn’t cover the meds, shop around. I found the prices of meds to be drastically different from one company to the next, and one prescription to the next. We used MDR Pharmacy for the meds not covered by our healthy plan. I found manufactures coupons online too. That saved us a few hundred dollars.

 

  • The National Infertility Association - national patient advocacy organization. They have the most up-to-date resources and information about infertility. They also have support groups you can tap into it, and advocate for all experiencing infertility. Resolve.org

 

  • Other feds that have gone through the process – share resources and provide support