Infertility coverage for military won’t break Pentagon bank
Apr 05, 2022
Origin: ASRM Press Release
Washington, DC – A pathbreaking new analysis from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Center for Policy and Leadership (ASRM CPL) and the Military Family Building Coalition (MFBC) shows that the Department of Defense could provide comprehensive infertility coverage to our nation’s active-duty military members and their families for a cost far lower than had been previously understood.
While there is some infertility care available through TRICARE, the Defense Department’s health care system, it is extremely limited, hard for most members to access, and does not include most modern infertility treatment modalities. There have been some moves to improve this situation, but most of them have not gotten the attention of policymakers and have not been enacted.
For an increasing number of services members, infertility is upending the dream of family-building before it can even happen. The Blue Star Families – Military Family Lifestyle Survey (MFLS), which was recently released with family-building questions for the first time based on the expertise of the Military Family Building Coalition, showed that two-thirds of military-connected family respondents report challenges with family building. Not only are military personnel subject to the same risks of infertility as everyone else, but they can face additional obstacles due to being in a hazardous work environment, the demanding military lifestyle, treatment costs, and limited access to care. According to the paper, 67 percent of civilian infertility care patients report spending $10,000 or more to build their families. And a recent survey found that women 25-34 years old accrued, on average, around $30,000 of debt after undergoing fertility treatment.
Working with National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, the ASRM CPL and MFBC developed a financial model for TRICARE to improve its coverage and provide the needed services. NORC used a Congressional Budget Office (CBO)-style model to calculate the estimated costs of the proposed benefits, using the most recently available demographic data published by TRICARE and the Department of Defense. NORC estimated that 2.1 million service members and their spouses would be eligible for the proposed benefit in its first year.
- Year 1 Estimated Costs: $260 million for 4,134 beneficiaries
- Estimated Annual Costs Thereafter: $144 million per year for 2,033 beneficiaries
- FY2021 Military healthcare spending totaled $51.3 billion
Over a 10-year period (FY2022-2023), the total estimated cost of the proposed benefit is just $1.6 billion and could be even lower as the CBO-style model includes several conservative assumptions. These numbers indicate that access to infertility treatment for members of the military is a cost that the US government can and should urgently bear.
Dr. Marcelle Cedars, President of ASRM commented, “It is shameful that we do not provide infertility care to those in our military who need it. With this study we remove the excuse that doing the right thing is too expensive. We call on President Biden and the Congress to address this shortcoming.”
“Providing comprehensive care and coverage of reproductive health is a military readiness issue. Omitting coverage of these core family building health needs of our active-duty military personnel has a direct impact on retention, readiness, and the financial solvency of many members. Our country cannot afford to lose the talent and diversity of the men and women being impacted by this gap in care,” said Katy Bell Hendrickson, Co-Founder of MFBC.
For almost a century, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has been the global leader in multidisciplinary reproductive medicine research, ethical practice, and education. ASRM impacts reproductive care and science worldwide by creating funding opportunities for advancing reproduction research and discovery, by providing evidence-based education and public health information, and by advocating for reproductive health care professionals and the patients they serve. With members in more than 100 countries, the Society is headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional operations in Birmingham, AL. www.asrm.org
About Military Family Building Coalition
The Military Family Building Coalition was founded in 2020 as the first non-profit Military Support Organization to take on family building challenges for active-duty military families. We partner with other Military Support Organizations like Blue Star Families and infertility support organizations like the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association to educate military families and the public about the lack of care and cover for active-duty military members trying to build their families while serving. For more information. Visit www.militaryfamilybuilding.org