"Most of that cost was just trying to conceive our oldest and doesn't even remotely cover the emotional ‘cost’ that comes with this type of journey," Kristen said.
The average cost for having a baby in the United States is $4,500, according to a study by Health Affairs, but Tricare covers almost all of that. For families who need fertility treatments, the cost is almost completely out of pocket. U.S. News & World Report says that costs vary based on the procedure, with intrauterine insemination (IUI) at the lower end of $500 to $4,000 and surrogacy potentially costing more than $75,000.
In August, the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance -- an independent nonprofit and the official relief society of the Coast Guard -- announced a new program in support of family members that is intended to improve workforce readiness. The Assisted Reproductive Services (ARS) zero-interest loan aims to support military members facing infertility. With all CGMA loans, eligibility is extended to active duty, auxiliary, retirees, reservists and civilian employees.
According to a press release from CGMA, one in eight couples in the United States have trouble getting or staying pregnant and female infertility among service members is even higher, at 30%.
The ARS loan is open to all those eligible for a CGMA loan, with no regard to marital status or sexual orientation. The loan provides up to $6,000 to help pay for fertility treatment programs and associated costs that aren't covered by Tricare.
As a same-sex couple, Kristen and Stacia were told they had to do a specific number of intrauterine insemination, or IUI, procedures before they tried in vitro fertilization (IVF), which added to their costs. The Morenos said that a loan for $6,000 would have covered five IUI treatments easily, helping them to manage their finances and debt over the years.
Eligible treatments covered by the ARS loan include IUI, IVF, donor egg/sperm, cryopreservation, surrogacy or other forms of assisted reproductive technology. The loan cannot be used for experimental or research programs.
It, however, can be used more than once. Once the loan is repaid, it can be reapplied for, said Erica Chapman, an education services specialist for CGMA.
The CGMA website has details on when you can request the loan and the terms.
While CGMA is the first military-affiliated aid society to offer a loan specifically for reproductive services, the Air Force Aid Society is considering adding one in the future.
"We do not offer [interest-free] loans or grants for reproductive services at this time. However, we are placing this into future consideration," Latoya Crowe, chief communications and development officer at the Air Force Aid Society, said in an email.
Gillian Gonzalez, vice president and chief development and communications officer at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, said its organization has provided financial aid for fertility treatments related to certain medical conditions.
“As with all requests for assistance, we consider each request based on individual needs and unique circumstances,” Gonzalez said in an email.
Gonzalez said families can apply for a general loan request -- and use the money for reproductive services -- by going through any of the society’s local offices.
CGMA's introduction of this loan also has given Army Emergency Relief something to think about.
"AER is reviewing the new Coast Guard program and will work with the Army to determine the best path forward. AER is committed to meeting the needs of soldiers and their families," an AER official told Military.com.
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