One thing that didn’t change with the Affordable Care Act is infertility not being covered by health insurance. Concerns over the perceived increase in premiums combined with other politically motivated debates over the handling of embryos have kept any progress with expanded infertility coverage to a minimum.
The Family Act of 2013 has the potential to help infertility patients defray some of the costs of infertility treatment by creating a tax credit for the out-of-pocket costs associated with IVF and fertility preservation.
What is The Family Act?
Originally called the Family Act of 2011, the bill was introduced in 2011 during the 112th Congress in the U.S. Senate by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman John Lewis (D-GA). It has met with resistance in the subsequent 113th Congress due to ongoing struggles with budgets and debates about tax revenue that make any proposal that includes new tax credits less palatable to politicians.
There’s no doubt the bill could provide a once in a lifetime chance for couples that otherwise don’t have the financial means to take on the expenses of an IVF. With a lifetime cap of almost $12,000, it could mean the difference between being able to afford that ‘last cycle’ that results in the birth of a couple's dream child.
We came very close to exhausting all of our financial resources at the end of our infertility journey. Our trip across country to one of the top clinics in the country to take one last shot at a biological child created an enormous financial burden.
A tax credit at the end of that journey would have certainly been a welcome benefit as the joy of our final cycle working was offset by the magnitude of bills that came after two trips to New Jersey, and the costs of the IVF and FET that resulted in our now 12 ½ year old formerly frozen embryo.
The concept of a family building tax credit has already been successful in the form of the Adoption Tax Credit. The Family Act was actually modeled after that credit.
A Tax Credit Versus a Tax Deduction
A lot of people are confused about the difference between this proposed tax credit and their standard medical deduction. The biggest difference is that the medical deduction only comes if the expenses exceed 10% of the adjusted gross income of the couple.
The tax credit is based on the first dollar in, meaning it doesn’t have to exceed a certain threshold. If you spend $1000 on an IVF, you’ll get a credit toward $500 (50%) of that expense.
This is also based on a lifetime maximum, not a one-time maximum. That means that if the expenses are incurred over a number of years, the credit can be used to provide a tax credit until the lifetime maximum is met. That would have been great for my wife and I since our journey spanned over a six year period at a cost of just over $70,000.
The Family Act bill is not just for infertility treatment - it can also provide financial relief to cancer patients who want to defray the cost of fertility preservation. Given the damage that radiation and chemotherapy can do to their reproductive biology, women diagnosed with cancer are starting to consider harvesting their eggs before their ovaries are exposed to harmful cancer regimens.
The procedure and resulting costs is similar to an IVF - only the eggs are frozen rather than being fertilized and transferred into the woman’s uterus.
Support The Family Act
It’s important to note that the Family Act is only considered a stop gap measure to at least reduce the financial burden on infertile couples until a federal mandate for infertility coverage can be passed.
Hopefully support will grow for this bill so that the millions of couples suffering from infertility won’t have to suffer from financial instability as a result of their parenthood pursuits.
Check to see if your Senator or Representatives co-sponsors this legislation. Then, send a letter right now to your Senators and Representatives asking for their support of this bill. The more personal and passionate you are, the more attention you are likely to get!