Last Wednesday, October 8th, I turned 35. On Friday, October 10th, I underwent an egg retrieval process for the purposes of cryopreservation. Even as I write this post, nearly a week later, I still feel the pressure of swollen ovaries, and other annoying side effects from the process.
This week, the week after my egg retrieval procedure, one of the hottest topics in tech news, is that Apple and Facebook will cover the cost of egg freezing for employees. The articles written suggest that Apple and Facebook are allowing the benefit so that their female employees have the option to focus on their careers without the stress or worry of reproductive timelines.
Since the story broke, there has been a number of debates on whether this is a good thing or bad thing for women. Both side of the debates are helpful and have lead to further discussions on creating better workplaces for women. I believe Facebook and Apple are doing a great thing in expanding employee options by covering non-medically necessary treatments, in addition to covering medically necessary fertility treatments. Sure, there is some work to be done in ensuring employees also have flexible work options to care for a family while working. But this does not and should not take away that these benefits are a good thing. These discussion are great, but if we were really honest, these discussions are just the privileged debating benefits for the privileged. I believe many of us are missing the opportunity to have a more impactful discussion on reproductive health issues and the responsibility of both the government and insurance companies.
In the case of someone who is actively trying to have children now, and is unable to do so for medical reasons; what does it look like if that person does not work for Apple or Facebook? Well, for many women, they are left with either finding a way to pay for treatment out of their pockets, forego the option of having children, or adoption (which is another discussion and also filled with many complexities). This is because the state of California does not mandate insurance companies to offer fertility coverage such as cryopreservation, even if it is medically necessary. Therefore, many insurance companies operating in the state of California do not cover these treatments or they cover it very poorly (downright inadequate).
Me being personal:
I went through the egg retrieval process for medical reasons. The procedure was deemed medically necessary in order for myself and my husband to have children. We were one of the privileged ones and was able to find a way to pay for the treatment. And this is what it costed us:
In case you do not have a calculator, total costs this month were $17,100.21: $11,605 for the procedure and $5,495.21 for prescription drugs. Add that to the $30k, we’ve already spent this year in previous failed attempts. As I mentioned before, we consider ourselves privileged to be able to pay this. (it wasn’t easy financially, more like barely covering the month’s rent easy, but we found a way) However, my thoughts are constantly wondering about those who are not able to pay these fees. What about them?
Here’s my ask:
Let’s change the discussion. Let’s support every woman’s reproductive health right, whether at Apple, Facebook, or the corner grocery store. One way to do this is to ask your congress member to support affordable assisted reproductive care. The nonprofit, Resolve.org, makes it easy to send a letter in support to your congress member. And if you’re reading this post, it’s even easier, just click the link below to support reproductive rights. https://secure2.convio.net/res/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=81B399F8646FFB4652B96EE3299CE0C7.app263b?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=499#.VEAzO9R4rWM
My swollen ovaries and my overworked amex card thanks you!