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Are You Taking Full Advantage of Your Company's Benefits?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

I started a new job recently—the first new job I’ve had in 10 years—and with this new job came a new insurance plan, and new health benefits. They’re great, don’t get me wrong—at least I think they are, from what I was able to understand.

Filling out the benefits package was the bane of my existence today.

This is absolutely no slight on the company I work for; they offer different plans at different levels for all kinds of different needs. And they’re great benefits. Having health insurance through a big company is a helluva lot cheaper than individual health insurance—this is obvious, I know—so I am certainly not complaining. About the benefits.

BUT. If I told you it took me days to figure out which insurance plan to go with, and what that plan actually covers in terms of everything (but specifically infertility), would you think I was exaggerating a little? Not even close. Of course I left this part of the enrollment process to the very last day—today—and consequently spent most of my afternoon trying to find privacy in my office so I could understand what the hell I was signing up for. This was no easy feat.

My new health insurance plan covers one IVF treatment over a lifetime. Okay, well that’s better than nothing. It also covers one IUI attempt over a lifetime. (No pressure or anything.) But nowhere did it explain whether that coverage includes a frozen embryo transfer, or the countless doctor appointments and medications involved with these fertility treatments. Maybe I could’ve assumed it did, but here’s the rub: I wanted to put money in a Flexible Spending Account for the stuff it didn’t cover, to maximize my benefits. And without knowing what it did cover, how would I know how much money to set aside for what it didn’t!? (When you put money aside from your paycheck, pre-tax, in an FSA, you lose it if you don’t use it.)

I must’ve called Member Services 10 times over the last two weeks, in my attempt to understand what my fertility coverage was…and because my office has no cell service, I lost three calls in the middle of getting my benefits explained to me. And because my office has no privacy, I spent hours and hours trying to find a conference room to squat in to sneak in a private phone call with four different departments of my insurance company. I'd be left on hold for 20 minutes at a time, then just as the woman came back with answers to my annoying and incessant questions to finally explain the benefits, someone came to claim the conference room and I got kicked out.

The poor twentysomething girl on the other end of the line who took the time to follow up with me, probably has no reason to know this much about infertility at this point in her life—she now knows way too much about mine. “I think your in vitro infertilization coverage includes your embryo cryopreserving.” Not too bad for someone who 30 minutes ago knew nothing about cryopreservation.

Whatever. I’m just grateful I have some coverage…whatever that coverage is. What I do know is, I can use my FSA for acupuncture and the annual storage fee for frozen embryos, which is huge. FSAs might be the greatest health benefit known to woman—my company even offers a separate FSA for dependent care, which means I can put up to $5,000 toward Preston's education in it, which comes out of my paycheck pre-tax. Hey, any little savings counts.

Does your company's health insurance plan cover infertility treatments? My last company used to cover up to four IVF cycles, then changed their policy this year (while I was still covered), which allowed for $2k total for fertility...I found this out exactly two days before my last transfer. That was a fun day.

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