Women whose health insurance covered in-vitro fertilization were more likely to repeat the procedure if necessary, boosting their likelihood of having a baby, compared with women who had to pay out-of-pocket for the pricey reproductive procedure, a new study found.
The study, published this week in JAMA, analyzed the probability that 1,572 women who were IVF patients at a fertility center at Washington University in St. Louis from 2001 through 2010 would have a baby after up to four cycles of treatment. Fifty-six percent of the women had insurance coverage for IVF treatment, 44 percent did not.
Because of the high costs associated with IVF, insurance coverage is a key factor for many people struggling with infertility problems. Fifteen states (including New Jersey but not Pennsylvania) require that insurers cover infertility treatment, but only a handful require comprehensive coverage of IVF, according to Resolve, an advocacy group for infertility issues. Large companies that pay their workers’ health claims directly are not subject to the state laws, but some still provide benefits.
After four cycles of IVF and taking into account variables such as age, the average cumulative probability that a woman with insurance would have a baby was 57 percent, while a woman without insurance had a 51 percent chance.
“I see this in my practice all the time, that women stop caring because it becomes too much of a financial burden to go on,” said Dr. Emily Jungheim, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University’s School of Medicine, and the study’s lead author.