Employer insurance coverage
Access to elective egg freezing is largely influenced by insurance coverage. Currently, employer-provided insurance coverage for this procedure varies widely. While some companies offer comprehensive coverage, others provide limited or no coverage at all. The cost of elective egg freezing can range from $10,000 to $15,000, excluding additional expenses such as medications and annual storage fees. The financial burden can create a gap between patients who desire POC and those with an ability to implement the process. The cost can be a significant barrier for many patients considering this option and perpetuates the lack of universal diversity, equity, and inclusion.
CASE 3 Gender dysphoria and fertility preservation
A 22-year-old transgender man is preparing to undergo gender-affirming hormone therapy and surgery. He is concerned about the potential impact of testosterone therapy on his oocytes and wishes to explore options for fertility preservation prior to oophorectomy.26
What are the patient’s options for fertility preservation?
The patient has the fertility preservation options of OC following ovarian stimulation or ovarian tissue cryopreservation at the time of oophorectomy. Preliminary evidence does not demonstrate impairment of ovarian stimulation and oocyte retrieval number with concurrent testosterone exposure. Ethical considerations, in this case, involve respecting the patient’s autonomy, addressing potential conflicts between gender-affirming care and fertility preservation (eg, a risk of dysphoria in transgender patients preserving biological gametes from a prior assigned gender), and ensuring access to fertility preservation services without discrimination. It is essential to provide the patient in this case with comprehensive information regarding the impact of hormone therapy on fertility, the available options, and the potential financial costs involved. Supportive counseling should also be offered to address any psychological or emotional aspects related to fertility preservation for all patients considering this option.
A call for diversity, equity, and inclusion
To improve access to POC, advocating for employer-offered insurance coverage is paramount. Women’s health providers can encourage dialogue between employers, insurers, and policymakers, which can lead to policy changes that prioritize coverage for fertilitypreservation options. This could include mandating coverage for POC as part of comprehensive health care plans or providing tax incentives to employers who offer coverage for these procedures. Furthermore, public awareness campaigns and advocacy efforts can help educate employers about the importance of including fertility preservation coverage in their employee benefits packages.
Just as physicians must recognize their responsibility to patients to distinguish unproven yet promising science from evidence-based and clinically established science, so too must they advise their patients to consider fertility preservation services in a way that is both clinically justified and ethically appropriate. Informed decisions must be made by appropriate counseling of evidence-based medicine to protect the interest of patients. POC provides patients with an opportunity to preserve their fertility and exercise reproductive autonomy. However, access to this procedure is often hindered by limited or nonexistent employer insurance coverage. By recognizing the medical, ethical, and social implications of POC and implementing strategies to improve coverage, collaborative efforts may increase accessibility and defray costs to provide patients with the option of deferring childbearing and preserving their reproductive potential. ●
1. Promptly offer fertility preservation treatment options with sensitivity and clarity.
2. Dedicate ample time and exercise patience during the consultation.
3. Provide education using multiple modalities to help patients assimilate information.
4. Encourage consultation with mental health professionals.
Special considerations for hematologic malignancies:
- Treatment can be associated with significant gonadal toxicity and premature ovarian failure.
- Patients are frequently ill at the time of presentation and ineligible for certain fertility preservation options.
1. Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Fertility preservation and reproduction in patients facing gonadotoxic therapies: a committee opinion. Fertil Steril. 2018;110:380-386. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2018.06.012
2. Kim SS, Klemp J, Fabian C. Breast cancer and fertility preservation. Fertil Steril. 2011;95:15351543. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.01.003