Recently, laws were passed in two states mandating insurance coverage of infertility treatment for patients with iatrogenic infertility. This is defined as an inability to conceive as a result of a medical procedure or treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy treatments for cancer. A blog post on our website detailed Connecticut’s passage of HB7124 requiring insurance coverage for iatrogenic infertility in June, and Rhode Island soon followed suit, with the governor signing their fertility preservation coverage bill on July 10th.
These states set a worthy example for the remaining 48 without this coverage: access to fertility preservation and infertility treatments is key in maintaining the quality of life of young cancer survivors.
The Alliance for Fertility Preservation is a national leader in the effort to bring insurance coverage to patients with iatrogenic infertility, many of whom are young cancer survivors. They note that every year, 150,000 Americans under 45 are diagnosed with cancer. Many of these patients have not yet completed their families or even begun to think about future family-building, when they are faced with a life-changing and extremely stressful diagnosis.
How does this affect fertility? Some cancers target the reproductive system, while other times chemotherapy and radiation therapy permanently damage a patient’s reproductive organs, or their egg or sperm cells. Without healthy and normally functioning reproductive organs or gametes, these patients lack what is biologically required for future reproduction, all due to a different diagnosis completely out of their control. It is unfair to expect these patients, as they try to manage an intensely distressing diagnosis and course of treatment, to also navigate and pay for costly fertility preservation treatments they otherwise would not have needed.
There have been many recent advancements in legislation requiring insurance coverage of other iatrogenic effects of cancer– now breast reconstruction surgery, wigs, prostheses, and anti-nausea medications are all covered by insurance for cancer patients. Infertility is a result of many cancers and treatment protocols, can greatly affect the future quality of life of a young cancer survivor, and should be considered a side effect deserving insurance coverage.
New Jersey already has an infertility coverage mandate, but IRMS calls on constituents and legislators to acknowledge that this must be expanded to include coverage of iatrogenic infertility as well.
IRMS routinely helps patients with recent cancer diagnoses cryopreserve oocytes and all of our oncofertility patients are seen within 24-48 hours of calling our office. We partner with LIVESTRONG Fertility to make treatment more affordable and expand access to care. Still, a state insurance mandate will offer broad protections to all cancer patients and others with iatrogenic infertility, ensuring that no one need sacrifice their future family while fighting for their own health.
If you have recently received a diagnosis that may threaten your fertility and are interested in learning more about how to protect it, fill out our contact form or call us at (973) 322-8286. We are eager to help you quickly and safely navigate the fertility preservation process.