States with fertility treatment insurance coverage have fewer births

By Diane Duke Williams

(Medical Xpress) -- Fourteen states now mandate partial or comprehensive health insurance coverage of fertility treatment. These mandates have resulted in more women using assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Studies have shown that ART is associated with lower live birth rates and lower risk of multiple gestation pregnancies in states with mandated insurance coverage.

Emily Jungheim, MD, assistant professor of at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is studying how insurance coverage and mandates influence ART practice patterns and outcomes.

Because of its location, the School of Medicine provides in vitro fertilization (IVF) services to a dichotomous patient population. Many patients from Illinois have mandated comprehensive IVF coverage through their employers, while most patients living in Missouri do not. This provides a unique research environment because few academic IVF centers with a large number of patients have access to this mix.

“We think it’s important to determine if insurance could be changing how doctors treat patients and how physicians talk to patients about their choices,” Jungheim says.

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