As a past and future IVF patient, the issue of reproductive healthcare is important to me; as a new mom-to-be, the issue of reproductive healthcare is important to me; as a woman who wants full control over her own body, the issue of reproductive healthcare is important to me; as a person who wants accessible and affordable health coverage for all people, the issue of reproductive healthcare is important to me.
But what are the biggest policies and debates specifically impacting reproductive healthcare right now? What happened in 2017 that we, as women, should care about and what is predicted for the state of women’s healthcare in 2018 – specifically for Infertility & IVF insurance options? If you’re like me and feel like these issues are often hard to digest and stay on top of, read below for a quick guide!
The Basics: A Quick Recap of the Facts
2017 was not a winning year for the state of women’s health coverage, as many of the basic rights won over the past few decades were put into question, threatened or flat out obliterated. Writer Julia Belluz of Vox summarizes: “From rolling back the Obama-era birth control mandate to chipping away at Medicaid, which covers half of all births in this country, to attempting to limit access to abortions, this is not a great moment for women’s health.”
From rolling back the Obama-era birth control mandate to chipping away at Medicaid, which covers half of all births in this country, to attempting to limit access to abortions, this is not a great moment for women’s health. – Julia Belluz of Vox.com
In addition to these set backs, the U.S. remains the only developed country with no universal health coverage and one of only a few with no guaranteed paid maternity leave. With several state primaries already in full swing and the 2018 midterm elections on the horizon, it’s important to understand the current state of women’s health care and the opportunities to get involved.
Planned Parenthood has got you covered with its State of Women’s Health Policy 2018 report. Easy to digest, this report outlines the major facts and figures that are specifically impacting women’s reproductive healthcare today. It recaps the successful milestones that women reached together in 2017, as well as the major setbacks and what to look for in 2018.
From the Women’s March in January and the rise of the #MeToo movement to disruptive elections in Virginia and Alabama, 2017 has been a year defined by resistance. – State of Women’s Health Policy 2018
The below infographics also help to visualize the most important congressional votes and bills regarding women’s reproductive healthcare and the people most impacted by them. The report states: “In an unprecedented year that had women demanding nothing less than full equality and control over their bodies − in the halls of Congress, at work, at school, at home, and in society − as well as powerful men being held accountable for their actions, in addition to heightened public awareness about the fundamental rights of women and men being able to control their future, these politicians still kept trying to impose their beliefs on voters and attack health care and bodily autonomy.”
What Other Women Are Saying
With the stakes this high, it’s not only important to stay up-to-date on women’s health, but also stay connected to what other women are saying – and doing – about it. In late 2017, theSkimm released a study that aimed to better understand women’s perceptions around health care issues. Partnering with YouGov, theSkimm surveyed more than 500 American women (ages 22–35) to see where they stand on the current healthcare system — and the policy debate about how to change it. Some of the highlights are captured below:
Healthcare is Broken for Millennial Women
Millennial women feel less informed than most
They Live in Fear of steep medical costs
Even Though They Aren’t Happy with the system, Millennial women Greatly Rely on it and are therefore some of the most impacted by the policy debate
Changes in Infertility Insurance Laws
Unfortunately, reproductive healthcare in the United States does not include coverage for infertility treatments and there are only 15 states in the U.S. that mandate infertility insurance laws. But in early June 2018, an exciting development took place as Delaware became the first state in over 13 years to pass a comprehensive infertility insurance law. Once officially signed into law, Delaware will become the 16th state to offer infertility insurance coverage.
This is a historic legislative win for Delaware families and shows the power of grassroots advocacy. Once the Governor signs it into law, Delaware will become the 16th state to provide infertility insurance coverage – and one of just a handful of states to provide fertility preservation for cancer patients.
Unlike other fertility laws, Delaware’s bill doesn’t specify fertility treatment limits per year or lifetime. It would also require fertility preservation coverage for people with cancer or diseases where treatment could cause infertility.
NY State is also petitioning for cancer treatment coverage with its Fair Access to Fertility Treatment Act (FAFTA). If passed, this act would add IVF and fertility preservation for cancer patients to NY’s current insurance law. Many cancer treatments leave women infertile or sterile. As a result, they must pay thousands to become pregnant. The Huffingpost summarizes:
Anywhere from 20 to 70 percent of people who undergo cancer treatment will be rendered infertile by chemotherapy or radiation, and those who are treated with surgery that removes organs like the ovaries or testicles are rendered sterile. This range of potential effects on fertility means that some will struggle to conceive, and might never be able to have genetically related children or carry a pregnancy to term.
We are currently living in a trying yet exciting time for women’s healthcare and it’s more important now than ever to stay on top of the latest developments and support when and where you can. I hope this refresher on the current state of women’s reproductive healthcare and IVF coverage helps bring clarity and newfound energy to this often convoluted topic!