After serving our country in war, adjusting to home can be extremely challenging, especially for our wounded veterans who have endured wounds that leave them infertile with no infertility treatment coverage. Damaged spines and injuries to reproductive organs add to an array of seemingly insurmountable battles both psychologically and physically. For a group of approximately 1,800 veterans with impaired fertility who bravely served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the return to civilian life is even more challenging. The Veterans Administration (VA) is barred by law from providing financial coverage for veterans who require fertility treatment, specifically in vitro fertilization (IVF). Last week PBS’s signature current events program, the Newshour, took a deep dive into the necessary fertility treatments veterans who have survived these types of injuries must receive in order to build their families.
The Estimated Cost of IVF without Infertility Treatment Coverage
According to the Newshour reporter, without insurance that provides infertility treatment coverage, the cost of IVF can range from $10,000 to $13,000 a cycle—a hefty sum for anyone in need of fertility treatment. For veterans whose infertility came about as a result of fighting for our country, it’s an added wound. Fortunately for groups like RESOLVE, a patient advocacy group, and, more recently, many fertility centers across the country, including Shady Grove Fertility, it’s become a priority to affect change in this legislation and provide our wounded veterans the treatment they need to build their families, regardless of the cost.
For the last 6 years Senator Patty Murray, D-WA, in her role on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, has worked tirelessly to get the votes to pass the bill she authored that would end the VA ban on IVF. Murray told the Newshour, “To me, when someone goes off to fight a war for us, a man or a woman, we have an obligation as the country to make them whole again, as whole as we can. And, certainly, having a family, having children, having that kind of quality of life that a lot of Americans want is something that we should make sure they get.”
While the Newshour was unable to get comment from lawmakers who oppose Murray’s bill, the concern is considered to be largely centered around cost and ethical concerns about potentially extra embryos created during the IVF process. Some estimate the costs of fertility treatment to the VA would be as high as $568 million over 5 years while others argue that estimate is wildly inflated.
Despite the potential cost and ethical concerns, Shady Grove Fertility’s Gilbert L. Mottla, M.D. explained the importance of the legislation to support fertility treatments for veterans. Mottla told the Newshour, “We’re really talking about some 1,800 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are now aging. This one group of war injured, we really need to move this legislation forward and get these individuals the coverage they need before they lose their own reproductive potential.”
A New Program to Help Vets without Infertility Treatment Coverage
To address the cost issue, this past Veterans Day the leading reproductive medicine governing bodies, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), announced the creation of Service to Vets, a program specifically designed the fill the void in funding for fertility treatments by offering the necessary fertility treatments at deeply discounted rates.
During RESOLVE’S Advocacy Day and through letters and appointments with legislators across the country, Shady Grove Fertility has let its voice be known in support of the effort to lift the IVF ban for veterans who require fertility treatment to build their family. We are also proud to enthusiastically support ASRM and SART’s efforts in the Service to Vets Program. In addition to our existing Military Discount Program for active duty military and reservists, as part of Service to Vets, wounded vets who require fertility treatment will receive a 50 percent discount at Shady Grove Fertility. Since November 2015, 103 fertility centers have joined Shady Grove Fertility, the ASRM, and SART in providing these discounts to our most worthy patriots.