STK - Healthcare Costs

Considering all of the chaos, doom and gloom that we editors are assaulted with daily as we read reporters’ articles and the news at large, like a lot of our readers, we love a chance to read a story that just makes us feel good.

We had such an opportunity this week thanks to Braley Dodson’s article about the Redd family, who, after a decade of trying to have children and spending thousands of dollars, welcomed twins into the world in June. This miracle was thanks in part to a grant from the Hope for Fertility Foundation, which provides grants to couples struggling to conceive to help cover the inordinate cost of infertility treatments.

In-vitro fertilization alone can cost at least $10,000, not to mention the treatments and other methods that are typically invested in before IVF. Add it all together, and a couple can invest a salary or two into trying to have children. And most, if any of it, is not covered by insurances.

This made us recall how excited so many naturally become when we see crowdsourced fundraisers — like GoFundMe fundraisers — that are funded to cover medical expenses of those in horrific accidents or who require extended hospital stays for deadly diseases and physical disabilities. It’s heartwarming to see people invest in helping someone obtain a new lease on life.

But as our smiles faded and we truly pondered on this topic, we thought that these situations, whether they be infertility treatments or dialysis, are symptoms of a greater problem.

One of the most dynamic talking points leading to the 2020 election has been health care. We don’t want to advocate for one proposed system or another. But we believe it’s reasonable to claim that the American health care system is broken and in desperate need of repair. The fact that GoFundMe, GoodRx or grants for parents to have the precious gift of children exist demonstrate the need for an overhaul of the health care system.

According to an August 2019 CNBC article, 16 states mandate that insurance covers some degree of infertility, and it varies from New York, which is often heralded as the cheapest state for IVF treatment, to Texas, where insurance companies are required to let employers know the coverage is available, but insurers are not required to actually provide the coverage.

Utah does not require any sort of insurance coverage for infertility treatments. Considering how family-focused many Utah lawmakers profess to be, this is rather telling.

Employers are helping couples shoulder the load, and in fact, according to the same CNBC article, 66% of employers nationally plan to offer fertility benefits.

But that’s still 33% of employers and 34 states that leave couples in the lurch in their often tear-soaked journey to have children. These create barriers to infertility treatment, leaving those who are circling the poverty line — which are commonly newlywed couples — unable to even participate in fertility treatment. And for those who do attempt fertility treatment, they’re often left with tens of thousands in debt incurred. When one considers that, according to the Office on Women’s Health, one in 10 women suffer from infertility, this isn’t an uncommon issue anymore. More states, including Utah, need to step up in demanding better coverage for infertility treatment.

To return to a broader level, the CEO of GoFundMe even said in a January 2019 Kaiser Health News article that GoFundMe originally started as a site for special occasions, wedding registries, and “ideas and dreams.” But now, about one-third of the site is now dedicated to medical-related coverage fundraisers, and as the site’s CEO said, demonstrate the “gigantic gaps” in the American health care system.

On one hand, as we said earlier, it is inspiring and comforting that many are willing to chip in a few dollars to hurting strangers. On the other hand, it’s an issue of great distress that they have to help out in the first place.

Countries around the world, from Canada to Italy and New Zealand, all have health care systems providing far more extensive coverage of their citizens’ medical needs than the U.S. According to an international review, the U.S. ranks 27th in the world for health care quality.

Yes, there are socioeconomic differences between the U.S. and the top-ranked countries that are often cited whenever health care reform is so much as uttered. We don’t mean to push those aside and we fully expect any health care reform to be an arduous process.

But improving health care policies needs to be a priority. We don’t believe the American Dream is supposed to be saddled by ER bills, thousands of dollars for necessary hospital stays or IVF treatment bills.

We share our excitement with the Redd family in having a happy set of twins to fill their home with laughter and love. And it is because of this joy they now have, thanks to a grant, that we assert our tenacity in the need for health care reform. We hope that the gaping holes now filled by grants, GoFundMe and the kindness of strangers will instead be filled by comprehensive health care reform and medical assistance.