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Two mothers lead effort to bring fertility health coverage to Tennessee

Two women who struggled to become mothers are leading a grassroots effort to expand health benefits in Tennessee, including fertility coverage.

Mollie Walker of Collierville, Tenn. and her friend Lauren Brown co-founded Tennessee Fertility Advocates. Both struggled with infertility and spent thousands of dollars to get pregnant and start building a family.

Infertility is a reality for 1-in-6 couples, according to fertility experts.  However, fertility care isn’t offered by most insurance plans in Tennessee.  Many hopeful parents incur thousands of dollars in debt as they fund fertility treatments, trying to start a family.

So, Tennessee Fertility Advocates has drafted legislation that covers fertility diagnosis, fertility treatments including medication and fertility preservation. 

Tennessee Fertility Advocates said that they believe infertility, a medical condition, should be treated like other diseases.

“It shouldn’t be treated anything else other than the disease that it is. How come the reproductive system is the only one that isn’t covered by insurance?” Walker said.  “You know my mom is a type-1 diabetic and she’s not coming to a bank to take out a loan to get her insulin treatments, right? So, it shouldn’t be any different and there’s so much cost savings and value-added when this is offered."

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Tennessee Fertility Advocates is looking for state lawmakers to sponsor the legislation.  Currently, 19 states offer fertility healthcare coverage. 

The advocacy group is building an online community of people who’ve battled fertility firsthand through its social media pages, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.