Unbearable: IVF Isn’t A Medical Treatment, It’s A Luxury Good

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ivfHaving a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

I know this is going to shock everyone. Brace yourselves. It’s a pretty huge story. I just want to make sure everyone knows… IVF is really expensive. Like, the cost of a small car expensive. Two rounds of IVF and we’re talking about the down payment on a pretty nice house. IVF and reproductive medicine are luxury goods in this country.

In a recent article for the Australian women’s website Mama Mia, I talked about how jealous I am at the idea of government-sponsored health insurance that covers reproductive technology. I would never personally call any infertile woman “lucky,” but I have to admit that I have dreams of being able to do as many rounds of IVF as I needed to without losing my life savings or taking on thousands of dollars in debt. (I’ve since learned that IVF can still be expensive over there, though it is a fraction of the cost here in the U.S.)

The more I’ve thought about reproductive technology in the United States, the more I can’t help but be frustrated by the class divide it creates. There are well-to-do families that can afford to treat their infertility. Then, there are less wealthy families, still perfectly capable of raising children, who languish without treatment and pray for the best each month.

Make no mistake, treatment does not guarantee a baby. Plenty of people try several rounds of IUI and IVF and never get the baby they so desire. There is heartache and difficulty in dealing with infertility no matter how much money you have to spare.

At the same time, knowing that there is a possible treatment out there that you just can’t afford is it’s own special form of torture. Trying to prioritize between saving for retirement and possibly having a child is it’s own kind of agony. That struggle really can create an immense amount of resentment that insurance in the United States doesn’t have to help cover any reproductive technology.

We cover Viagra, but not fertility tests. Other illnesses are covered and cured, but infertility is something you have to live with. The surgery to remove my ectopic pregnancy? Paid for. Surgery to help me get a healthy pregnancy? Thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.

We have people right here in the United States who are going into debt just to try to have a family. And even if they decide not to pursue medical intervention, the average cost of adoption in the United States is $30,000. That’s the equivalent of roughly two to three rounds of IVF, depending on your clinic.

No matter what way you look at it, infertility is expensive. Trying to have a family when “the good old-fashioned way” doesn’t work out is an extremely costly journey. It’s a journey that’s only available to a certain class of our population. I’m not quite sure if or how we can change that, but that doesn’t make the situation any less sad.

(Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)