Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Final letter to HR

I'm finally ready to mail my letter!! Thanks to anyone who offered comments and suggestions, and particularly to Rebekah for editing:-) I took all suggestions into consideration. I'm posting my letter here, in hopes that someone may be able to use parts of it to develop a letter of their own, for their employer. The stats toward the bottom come from the Resolve website. I don't expect this letter to change anything, but it does feel like I am at least doing something to voice my opinion and get my story out there.

Dear [Name] :
I have been an employee of xx for the past 8 years. My husband and I are suffering with the disease of infertility and request that you consider covering infertility treatment in xx’s health benefit package.

We have been trying to get pregnant for over 4 years; we have been seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist for the past 18 months. Since January 1, 2008, my husband and I have spent over $17,000 on procedures to help us get pregnant. I have taken fertility drugs both orally and in injections. I have had 5 Intrauterine Inseminations. My husband and I have been put through test after embarrassing test to try to find the reason for our infertility. Neither of us minds the invasiveness caused by the procedures we’ve had done. What we do mind is that we have to pay 100% for those treatments. We have exhausted our choices in infertility treatment, and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is likely the only chance we have of having a family.

We went through our first IVF cycle in May, 2008. Procedures for that cycle cost over $11,000; medications cost another $2500. We transferred two “perfect” embryos, and neither resulted in a pregnancy. We were lucky enough to have 3 embryos that were able to be frozen from that IVF cycle. It cost over $600 to freeze the embryos. We then did a transfer of those 3 embryos, which cost another $3,000. Sadly, that attempt did not work either. We currently have nothing to show for over $17,000 spent, except the lingering of needle marks and bruising from the shots I took to stimulate egg growth and to pump my body full of the progesterone that is necessary to sustain a pregnancy. Additionally, dealing with years of infertility has affected my mental health, and I am currently seeing a therapist to deal with the depression that infertility has caused in my life and the toll it has taken on my marriage.

I have utilized the Employee Assistance Program to help me deal with this struggle. I have maximized my Flex Spending Account (FSA). While I am grateful for the FSA, it bears mentioning that $450 is deducted from my monthly paycheck to cover the cost of two procedures that did not work. We have spent so much money in 2008 on infertility tests and treatments that I will be able to deduct costs from our Federal Income tax.

To add additional stress, we are dealing with a timeline. Chances of success with IVF go down significantly after the age of 35. I will turn 35 in 7 months. As you can see, not only are we dealing with an immense amount of financial stress, but that stress is occurring in a short period of time. Because I can only take $5k from my FSA per calendar year, we are forced to wait until at least January 2009 to try again. At that point, we could be faced with the same thing. That is going through the invasive procedures again and the stress of wondering if our embryos are thriving as they should, only to be told that once again we are not pregnant, and have spent another $17,000.

Infertility is not unlike any other disease. My husband and I did not choose to have difficulty having a child; the sense of loss and grief when you are told you may never have a child is much the same as telling a patient they have a life altering disease.

I have been in contact with an HR representative a few times over the past 2 years to question why xx does not provide coverage for the illness of infertility. I’ve been told that infertility coverage is something that gets assessed annually by an outside group. Once “enough” companies of a similar size to xx include infertility coverage as part of their healthcare package, xx will consider doing the same. This begs the question why it is not xx’s responsibility as a leading university both in this country and worldwide to be leading the way for other companies to get this disease covered.

I’m simply unclear as to why infertility coverage is not included in the current insurance plans. Often employers believe that adding an infertility coverage benefit will increase health care costs. However, recent studies indicate that including comprehensive infertility coverage in a health benefit package may actually reduce costs and improve outcomes. For example, a recent employer survey conducted by the consulting firm William M. Mercer found that 91 percent of respondents offering infertility treatment have not experienced an increase in their medical costs as a result of providing this coverage.

There are currently 15 states mandated to cover the costs of infertility; Illinois is one of them. If xx were to move 15 miles east, it would be required to provide coverage. In states with mandated infertility insurance, the rate of multiple births is lower than in states without coverage. (New England Journal of Medicine, “Insurance Coverage and Outcomes of In Vitro Fertilization,” August 2002). Couples with insurance coverage are free to make more appropriate decisions with their physicians based on medical necessity rather than financial considerations which often result in multiple births and a high rate of complications during and post pregnancy.

Please let me know if you would like any additional information on this issue. I sincerely hope that xx will consider offering infertility coverage and support our desire to build our family.

Thank you for your consideration.

[Your Name]


Kimberley said...

I just ran across your blog and see that we have a lot in common. I am also 34 and we have been trying to have a baby for 5 years, so I definitely feel your pain. I have had uterine fibroid surgery, a failed IVF, many failed Clomid cycles, you name it. My insurance did cover my fertility treatments, but it capped out at $10K lifetime. You know as well as I do that won't get you very far. Good luck to you and I will pray for you as well.

andrea said...

very well written! I don't know how they could not read it and want to take action. I really hope something will come from this!

Anonymous said...

I hope your letter can make a difference! If not, there are great companies out there that do cover it...My insurance covers $15k, including IVF treatment and I feel blessed - I'm also an HR Mananger, so I am very passionate to offer great benefits. Good luck!!