The Fight for Infertility Care
According to data gathered by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Registry, the United States has been the leader in IVF success rates with each year building on the success of the previous year. This has been the case since reporting began. All over the world infertility is a problem for families in all socio-economic groups. Countries with less access to resources – those with lower or middle income – apparently face increased infertility issues.
Infertility patients in developed countries such as Western Europe and Australia are better able to access the care and resources available to them; however, even as highly developed as the United States is, individuals and couples seeking infertility caredon’t have the same access as other developed countries do. In fact, less than half of those seeking infertility care in the United States are able to access all the care that’s available. Many cannot get infertility care at all.
Having a Family, A Right or an Option?
Infertility care is expensive. For many families the cost is well beyond their means. When the out-of-pocket cost is considered along with the fact that there is no guarantee that the result will be a live birth, some people, though they want children, are not in a financial position to make that call. There are some programs available to help offset the cost, but health insurance is seldom one of them. For most insurance companies, infertility care is considered an elective and therefore not covered.
Is the desire to have a child a mere elective or is it a right? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights made by the United Nations in 1948 coveys that it is a right. It states, “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality, or religion, have the right to marry and raise a family.” The declaration was reiterated in 1994 in the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development. In light of that statement infertility then becomes a health issue and infertility care ceases to be an elective.
Addressing the Health Issue with Infertility Care
The World Health Organization brought about immense change in how infertility was viewed when, in 2009, infertility became recognized as a disease. Societies and governments had to take a new look at infertility and the necessity for infertility care.
The reproductive system is one of many systems the human body relies on to function properly. Each system in the body has a specific function or functions to perform. When one of those systems is impaired or fails we seek medical care for repairs or corrections and in most instances whatever resources are available to fix the problem are brought into play. Sometimes the resources may be on the low end of the scale, but they are accessible. This is true for practically every malfunction the body experiences – except reproduction.
When infertility is seen as a disease, infertility care then assumes the same importance as treatment for diabetes, asthma, obesity or any other health issue. When seen as a disease, it then becomes an important issue that needs to be addressed for all families experiencing its effects.
Change Is on the Horizon
It may be slow in coming but access to infertility care is happening. The American Medical Association made a resolution in 2017 supporting the World Health Organization’s recognition of infertility as a disease. They further stated that it is a “ . . . disease state with multiple etiologies requiring a range of interventions to advance fertility treatment and prevention.”
The hope is that the United States health care systems, including health care insurance companies, will see this problem for what it truly is and help infertile couples exercise their right to have children by providing adequate access to infertility care.
Cypress Women’s Center is a place where women can come for OB/GYN care provided by other women. For compassionate, understanding care, contact us and make your appointment today.