ASRM Military Families, Infertility, & National Security: Why expanding service members’ access to infertility treatment is easy, affordable, and the right thing to do.

A joint white paper by:
The ASRM Center for Policy and Leadership Military Family Building Coalition

View the full TRICARE White Paper

Executive Summary

Supporting military families is central to keeping our military strong – but for an increasing number of service members, infertility is upending the dream of family-building before it can even begin. Moreover, TRICARE (the military’s health care program) does not even cover infertility treatment for most service members. As a result, many members of the military who struggle with infertility are forced to choose between forgoing parenthood or paying exorbitant out-of-pocket rates for infertility treatments that are financially out of reach for most. These gaps in support for family-building do more than just a disservice to our people in uniform – they undermine the military’s efforts at retention and diversity.

Expanding service members’ access to affordable infertility treatments through TRICARE is an urgent priority that can also bolster retention and enhance diversity. Service members deserve the right to build the families they want regardless of deployment schedules, fertility challenges, or their financial situation. Stronger support for family-building can help retain top talent, especially at the officer level and to boost female leadership. Fortunately, the solution is not only clear – it is also easy, affordable, and the right thing to do.

ASRM has drafted a TRICARE benefit modification to address this issue – and commissioned a Congressional Budget Office (CBO)-style score to estimate the proposal’s cost. The proposed modification would extend coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments to any active-duty service member or their spouse struggling with infertility. In the proposed benefit’s first year, the CBO-style model projects an additional budget expense of $260 million – or just 0.5% of the 2021 Defense Health Agency Budget and 0.03% of the 2022 Department of Defense Budget – to meet “pent up” demand. For the remainder of a decade, the model projects an additional recurring budget expense of $144 million – an even smaller share of the projected US military budget.

Expanding access to infertility treatment for members of the military is a cost that the US government can – and should – urgently bear. Over a 10-year period, the total estimated cost of the proposed benefit is just $1.6 billion. Even before considering the benefits to military retention and diversity, as well as service member morale and wellbeing – $1.6 billion over 10 years is a small sacrifice for the people in service who everyday risk the ultimate sacrifice by putting themselves in harm’s way for their country.

ASRM Announcements contain information of interest to members about ASRM and its affiliates, NIH, FDA, WHO, or CDC matters.

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