Infertility rates in India are high while the treatment for this disease is not only extremely expensive, but it is also hard to find in every hospital.
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Should infertility treatment be covered under health insurance?

Infertility rates in India are high while the treatment for this disease is not only extremely expensive, but it is also hard to find in every hospital.

  • February 12, 2016  
  • |  
  • UPDATED   11:32 IST
Naval Goel, Founder & CEO, PolicyX.com

The warm gurgling laugh of a newly born baby is nothing short of music to its mother's ears. As practically any parent would be willing to testify, raising a baby can be the most exhausting activity yet the most meaningful one in a person's life.

Nature has generously gifted human beings, as all other living species, with the rewarding ability to create a new born life of their own. It is deeply unfortunate then, that not all people are able to enjoy this life-altering experience. In fact, many are unable to give birth to a baby of their very own.

The Insurance Factor

Here comes the difficult question. Should Infertility Treatment be covered under Health Insurance? This is a question the answer to which has been long debated. The idea of infertility treatment being covered under health insurance has been relentlessly supported by some while it has been quickly dismissed by others. In general, in our country, infertility treatment is not covered under health insurance policies of most insurance giants across the nation.

This is due to a host of practical reasons. Infertility rates in India are high while the treatment for this disease is not only extremely expensive, but it is also hard to find in every hospital. The process of In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is usually used to treat the problem of infertility in women.

Surveys have shown that one in almost every eight women is a victim of this harsh disease of infertility. This means that insurance companies would tend to be apprehensive of the high chances of claim pay outs in case they begin to include infertility treatment in their insurance policies. Anyhow, no complication related to maternity is covered under the health insurance policies of our country.

Also, infertility is not exactly considered to be an illness that needs to be treated, rather treatment here is voluntary and not necessary for the healthy survival of the individual. It is also too expensive for a developing nation like ours.

In the case of men's infertility, too, the situation is pretty much the same on the insurance front. Most of the treatments for infertility of men and women are still in the experimental stage of their usage and implementation.

Experimental treatments are never covered under health insurance in our country which automatically strikes off any chance of infertility treatment for men or women featuring on the list of genetic or contracted diseases  (through sexually transmitted diseases) that are covered under health insurance policies of India.

However, the times are changing for the better and there happen to be a lot of staunch supporters for the thousands of men, women and couples facing this traumatic disease today, at least in India. Many Indians believe that infertility treatment should be added to the health insurance coverage umbrella of insurance companies across the nation.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), for example, is enormously expensive in our country, even though comparatively it is considered much cheaper relative to the prices of In Vitro Fertilization in foreign countries like the United States from where women fly down to get operated upon in India at a lower rate.

To an average Indian family, however, the amount required for an In Vitro Fertilization is quite a hefty one at a conspicuous Rs. 2.5 lakhs at the bare minimum. Added to this are the expenses associated to the In Vitro Fertilization treatment concurrent or post the treatment.

It is not an easy feat for a middle class Indian family to be able to come up with such a heavy amount all on their own. Covering infertility treatment under health insurance policies could provide a much needed breath of fresh air for the people battling the demons of infertility every day of their lives.

Like any other disease or injury that any individual is suffering from, infertility should also be covered under health insurance policies because it has now been established as legit an illness like any other. Having a baby is, after all, a right and not a luxury.

Insurance coverage could encourage hundreds of women to get themselves treated of infertility and to have their own unique beautiful children, with the financial aspect now taken care of. Insurance coverage for infertility could be a rather meaningful respite during the otherwise mostly painful experience.

This has been proved by the exemplary efforts of Bharathiya Mahila Bank (BMB) Nirbhaya which, since January 2014 provides insurance coverage for not only treatment for infertility but also for all maternity expenses as well for all the women who are account holders in the bank.

In an effort to encourage the Indian insurance sector to provide insurance cover for infertility treatment and maternity expenses for the women of our country, BMB Nirbhaya has collaborated with New Indian Assurance to provide such a health insurance cover.

With its cashless facility, pre and post-hospitalization expenses cover, day care expenses cover as well as regular gynaecological check-ups, this endeavour has managed to bring a ray of hope in the lives of thousands of childless, infertile couples across India.

However, this is only the first step on the long road that we have ahead of us if we wish to truly remove the stigma attached to infertility. At the end of the day we need to remember that not having a baby should be a personal choice, not a financially enforced mandate in our lives.

Naval Goel, Founder and CEO, PolicyX.com