An emotional debate has attended the question of whether health insurance should cover the cost of in vitro fertilization (IVF) for infertile couples. Some private health plans have opted to cover IVF, although most have not. Ten states have mandated that it be included or offered as a standard benefit for private health insurance plans. This article analyzes several key issues in the debate: the impact of insurance coverage; the cost-effectiveness of IVF; valuing the benefit of IVF; and adoption as an alternative. It recommends policy action in several areas: more efficiently allocating resources for IVF (by giving priority to couples with better chances of success, and by making more extensive use of facilities with higher success rates); ensuring that clear and reliable information about the effectiveness of IVF is available; and leveling the playing field between IVF and adoption.
Research Article|October 01 1997