When Facebook and Apple announced its offer to freeze the eggs of their female employees, there was a buzz of pros and cons regarding this proposal. While one side thought it was an exceptional gesture to help women postpone their days of motherhood while immersed in corporate America, another group was offended by such a business maneuver which they thought was an insulting curtain of transparency where they were being forced to put off having a family Quite frankly, in the end, it’s a personal decision. Michelle Andrews who wrote a special in The Washington Post uncovered another facet to this whole corporate egg freezing business. For a group of women, it’s more than just shelving motherhood. In her article, Egg-freezing discussion shifts focus to insurance, she writes, “But that is not the main concern for some women who, because of illness or age, are worried that time is running out for them to have children. After their mid-30s, women can carry a pregnancy, but their eggs are less viable. Egg-freezing allows women to extend their fertile years.” Andrews interviews Brigitte Adams, 42, who was on the cover of Bloomberg Business Week for a feature story. “I’ve never met anyone who fits the mold of the stereotypical egg-freezer who’s career-mad and waiting for Mr. Right,” Brigitte Adams said in her interview. She continued, “A lot of women will tell you, ‘I didn’t expect to be here. I just want the possibility of having a child.’” Adams is certainly not the exception to the rule. In fact, her “type” is quite common. A divorced woman, now in her thirties, who thought the man she married, would be the father to her children. For women in this niche, they are becoming proactive. Adams paid the $12,000 egg-retrieval procedure from dipping into her savings and financial help from her family. Andrews writes, “Adams pays $300 annually to store her eggs, and she’s pondering becoming a single mother. Her marketing job at a tech start-up in Los Angeles doesn’t provide coverage for egg-freezing and storage or the in vitro fertilization that will be required if she decides to go ahead.” A total of 11 eggs are frozen and stored. She is also mindful the0se eggs may not result in a conception when the day arrives. Adams tells the reporter, “It’s not a silver bullet but it gave me the sense I’d done everything I could, and that has helped me tremendously to just move on.” According to Andrews, a couple of years ago, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) announced that the process of egg-freezing is not experimental anymore. According to ASRM, there is no difference in “pregnancy rates” in utilizing frozen or fresh eggs. Any concerns over birth defects and other abnormalities showed no link with frozen eggs. Andrews then interviewed Richard Reindollar, an executive at ASRM. “Yet insurance coverage for egg-freezing and other infertility treatments remains spotty,” he told Andrews. “Of all the disease processes, insurance coverage is available for essentially all of them, but not for infertility.” Indeed, this has sparked another disjointed health insurance plea for help. Andrews then interviewed America’s Health Insurance Plans. According to their spokesperson, Susan Pisano, her understanding was, “…that many plans cover egg-freezing when there’s a diagnosed fertility problem or when an individual is at risk for infertility because of such treatments as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Coverage for nonmedical reasons is much less common.” Pushing forward in her research Andrews found the following through Mercer:
Quite a disparity, don’t you think? Now back to Facebook and Apple. They’re offering their employees up to $20,000 in egg freezing for either medical or non-medical issues. Dan Bernstein of Mercer in San Francisco tells Andrews, “Silicon Valley is probably leading the way (in coverage for egg-freezing) since competition is fierce and companies are always looking for ways to attract recruits.” Andrews went on to talk with EggBanxx. Their vice president, Jennifer Palumbo, shared that some insurance companies offer to help pay a portion of the consultation, medications, and some diagnostic testing. As we know, all health insurance plans differ. But one thing they will not typically cover is egg retrieval and harvesting. This is an out-of- pocket patient expense, because it’s probably considered elective in the mad world of health insurance. Andrews writes, “Infertility advocates would like to see more companies adopt egg-freezing policies, especially for women who are likely to become infertile as a result of chemotherapy.” Barbara Collura, president of Resolve, an infertility advocacy group told Andrews, “I think it’s amazing for people at these companies, but can we also get this covered for women with cancer?” Let’s hope all women are afforded the opportunity; and, that the New Year brings more rights to national and international laws for future parents and children born via surrogacy.