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#IVFContests #IVFAwareness #BuildJewish Families

Another group held a video conference for a free IVF. This was a new twist however, because the host of the contest was a radio station in Utah. The ends of the contest – the chance for someone without the financial means to be able to receive treatment that may lead to having a baby – is a wonderful goal. An important question is if those ends justify the means.

Unlike most coverage of these contests, a recent article reporting about this contest shared both sides of this story. The pro’s include building awareness about infertility, the emotional and financial costs that it takes, and providing someone with treatment. It may also help people speak out and get support they may not have otherwise received.

The con’s are another story.  “Asking couples to create a video for a radio station about raw, difficult experiences can feel like making entertainment out of someone’s misery” said one contributor to the story. Another shared that the contest is, “ a very offhand or casual way to deal with something that we generally view as being a more serious issue.” Indeed.

The public votes on the videos submitted by the finalist for the radio station contest. Imagine you are applying for this and were told you were a finalist. Do you make your story the saddest? Do you show yourself as the most hopeful? The most desperate? Do you need good production values? Do you have others speak for you? Should you be funny? How do you get people to vote for your video? Whatever the criteria for earning IVF treatment, it seems as much a reflection of how to use publicity to show yourself as deserving treatment.  And that is a problem. Someone deserves treatment more than others? Someone’s story is more compelling? Or is it a popularity contest with extremely high stakes? None of the answers are good.

Another con is that these contests overshadow an underlying issue of why the treatment is not funded in the first place. The insurance industry is not taking on this issue and the idea that it is expensive is not a legitimate answer. Cancer treatment is not cheap. Neither is a mastectomy, cataract surgery, diabetes treatment or treatments for accidents and traumas. We ought to be asking more challenging questions about why treatment for infertility like IVF is not available and affordable.

For Hasidah, these issues are not taken lightly. The medical appropriateness, financial need, and personal information are taken seriously to ensure the best possibility of building a Jewish family. Hasidah grant applicants take a significant amount of time and effort to apply which often is not rewarded with funding. We try to honor that with continual efforts to build awareness, to treat our clients with the utmost respect and not make a spectacle of their experiences.

If there was a contest to be held, perhaps it ought to be finding the most effective strategy for making IVF affordable and making insurance coverage for it part of standard health insurance. That would be the mother of all contests.

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Hurray for companies that are realizing support for family building is good for business! It’s quite an interesting position financially, socially, and economically for a business to show that supporting family creation is something worthwhile. The JewishStork has supported people who have chosen jobs and kept jobs because of access to insured fertility care. It is a growing factor for job choice and loyalty. The companies support a variety of ways to help families – from adoption, to screening, to IVF to family leave. Parents can actually contribute, families are a good thing, and supporting reproductive health is actually a win-win? Indeed.

Hard to imagine these benefits speaking to men? If @entrepreneur magazine would start thinking of these issues in terms of “family” benefits and “family leave” instead of just “maternity”, then they may even be as forward thinking as the companies they feature.

 

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Many options fill the list of concerns for people facing infertility: emotional stability, how to choose treatment, which doctor to choose, social pressure, spiritual crisis, stigma, fear treatment will not work, physical effects of treatment, marital issues, balancing work with treatment, and of course how to pay for the treatment. All of these are very significant, but one of them in particular exacerbates the others in a unique way. A recent study found that the biggest concern is cost.

Cost Concern

Fertility Treatments in the United States: Sentiment, Costs and Financial Impact. May 2015, MarketCube sponsored by Prosper.

Not only did costs top the lists of concerns (84%), for those “very concerned” it topped the list by over 15% to the next option of handling the treatments emotionally (62% vs 45%).  Cost tops the list for the reason people delay treatment (82%) and remains on top of the list of concerns even once treatment has started (70%). Costs top the list of concerns all around.

The irony of this is that for many people, addressing infertility is one of the hardest challenges facing us in our adult lives. To be sure, life can dish out some bad challenges. For most, however, infertility is completely unprecedented. For other issues, perhaps we have thought about them, we can prepare to address them, we can see a logic even if we don’t agree, we can give a good fight and feel better about it. In the case of infertility we often  feel out of control, unprepared, and simply at a loss. It lasts with no known ending. The stress of infertility has even been compared to the levels of stress when facing cancer. Yet the cost of treatment is cited as a bigger concern than the emotional toll.

To truly address the communal issue of infertility, we do need to address most if not all of these concerns – the emotions, the spiritual crisis, the marital issues, the stigma, the everything. When Hasidah was founded however, the basic premise was that the Jewish community spends millions and millions of dollars helping kids be Jewish. Of all the things standing in the way to having a Jewish child,  financial barriers ought to be something we can remove. We can do it.

The emotions will not go away if treatment is financially out of reach. The decisions are made for us if the options are not affordable. For sure we need to address the difficult emotions and decisions. However, if we are going to start at the top of what is concerning people experiencing infertility, then address the costs.

 

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Hasidah is thrilled to be among the first grant recipients from the Tmicha (Hebrew for support) giving circle. Giving circles are a new trend in philanthropic giving where groups of people work together to make a larger impact through a shared giving process.  Kol hakavod (more power to you!) to our partners Priya and The Red Stone who share this honor with us and who share our combined vision for more Jewish babies.

From one of the Tmicha participants: “We have chosen to make Jewish infertility the focus of our first cycle, and are honored to be able to support the work of Priya, Hasidah and The Red Stone, three infertility support organizations working in different communities and different parts of the Jewish community. I hope that you will consider learning more about each of these organizations and the holy work they do, and consider a gift of your own.”

Thank you Tmicha!

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