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Health Plans Often Omit Fertility Treatments

The Columbus Dispatch,  Aug 29, 2010
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The only way that Faith Amore-Reed can get pregnant is through in-vitro fertilization.

She's had several ectopic pregnancies and too many miscarriages to count. As a result, she lost her fallopian tubes.

Amore-Reed and her husband, Stephen Reed, have an 8-year-old daughter, Carsie, who was born after in-vitro.

They have been trying for a second child. Their latest attempt was this month when her doctor implanted her fertilized eggs.

The Muskingum County couple have spent close to $50,000 trying to have a baby. They've dipped into their retirement savings, spent their tax refunds and borrowed money.

Amore-Reed has health insurance through her teaching job at Newark schools, but her plan doesn't cover fertility treatments.

That's why she had five embryos implanted this last time instead of one or two, which is safer for mom and baby.

"Since this was my last go around, I had them all implanted," said Amore-Reed, 38. "I wanted to give it my best shot."

The couple's efforts paid off: She recently learned that she is pregnant.

Implanting embryos can lead to a risky pregnancy and multiple low-weight births, both of which can be expensive. Those possibilities are why many insurance companies and employers don't cover infertility treatments.

Kelly McGivern, president of the Ohio Association of Health Plans, said: "If there's a medical problem with getting pregnant, then that would likely be covered — like a blocked fallopian tube — but not necessarily infertility injections."

If employers want to add coverage for infertility, they can.

"But more and more employers are opting not to cover it, because it's very expensive and takes away from the day-to-day needs that people have, like prescriptions," said Debora Spano, spokeswoman for UnitedHealthcare.

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