Our fertility journey has cost tens of thousands of dollars. My husband’s heart condition has cost thousands more. These costs are despite the fact that we have never been without at least a decent healthcare plan. We have been blessed in that my husband’s heart condition is very treatable, and aside from a very scary series of heart attacks and surgery to remove a 90% blockage in his LAD a few years into our marriage, my husband has been fairly healthy. We also have a spunky, handsome 4-year-old, who finally came to us after years of fertility treatments and medications. Not everyone who sacrifices to come up with the money for their healthcare is fortunate enough to have these outcomes. For many the money they continue to be indebted with is simply a painful and expensive reminder of the family member that was or the child that will never be.
The amount charged for healthcare varies on an unbelievably large scale. This really came into particular focus for me recently. Having ourselves spent thousands on medications alone during our previous IVF cycle in 2012 and hundreds on medications for each of several IUI cycles in the years before, I was floored when I showed up at the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions for this round. I was presented with a total bill of $157.20. In absolute disbelief, I reviewed the list of scripts looking for an error, convinced that something was missing: $0.00-$1.31-$18.84-$12.05-$50-$50-$25-$0.00. I found no error and all prescriptions were accounted for. How was this possible? A pen we paid over $800 for a few years ago, would now cost us a mere $25.
I can’t help feeling as though we have now hit the insurance lottery. This is exclusively due to our surprisingly comprehensive new health coverage, which came as an unexpected benefit with my husband’s new job. Between my husband’s history of a heart condition and our struggle with infertility, healthcare accessibility and affordability has been a constant source of anxiety in our lives and in our marriage. Thanks to this new, employer healthcare plan, I am relieved that my husband’s preexisting heart condition will not mean being priced out of the market, and I am overjoyed at the prospect of pregnancy again; however, this exuberance feels like a betrayal.
There are tens of millions out there, who are not so lucky with their healthcare coverage, and we could be back joining them at any time. I can’t help but feel the weight of guilt piling on, even as our chances for a second child are not guaranteed. We still have a long road ahead, but at least we have the opportunity to try. Before this insurance we had not even allowed ourselves to consider what life might be like with a sibling for our beautiful rainbow baby boy from our previous fertility treatments. The treatments that nearly bankrupted us, emotionally and financially, early on in our marriage. Our relationship is stronger for it, but we are still recovering from the financial strain that our quest for parenthood placed on us.
What about the others? Those couples who did not luck box into a generous employer funded healthcare plan, who cannot afford even one cycle of treatment, and who dare not even dream of a baby now. What of those whose preexisting conditions like heart issues, which under the AHCA and the MacArthur Amendment, will allow insurance companies to charge them so much that coverage just isn’t possible? PEOPLE WILL DIE! I am heartbroken for them and for their families. I will not grow complacent just because, for now, my family is covered. We need a Single Payer National HealthCare system that protects the health and wellbeing of every American and that provides affordable and accessible Infertility Treatments and Reproductive Rights as well. As constituents of NJ District 3, we showed up last night at Tom MacArthur’s town hall (of MacArthur amendment infamy). We were denied entrance, but we protested outside. We will continue to show up and do so until all Americans have AFFORDABLE ACCESS to HEALTHCARE!
Wishing you all PEACE, LOVE, & BABY DUST.