CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Local couples struggling to start families are hitting a major barrier.
The state does not require insurance companies to cover infertility treatments, and some couples are paying for policies that cover maternity treatments that they will never be able to use.
The CDC reports that roughly 12 percent of women in the United States suffer from infertility.
Jamie Pursley of Mooresville brings some of those women together through a support group.
"It was my dream. I grew up wanting to be a mom," Pursley told Channel 9.
Jamie and her husband, Jacob, always wanted to have children, but their dream was jeopardized in 2011 when a rare medical condition caused Jamie to lose their first baby and made it impossible for her to carry another.
"It was devastating," she said.
The couple was outraged to learn that they had been paying for insurance that included maternity coverage that they would never be able to use, but it couldn't help with costly fertility treatments.
"It was a slap in the face," Pursley said.
The couple started a petition to state lawmakers to mandate infertility coverage. They also started raising money to help bring their son into the world through a surrogate.
Treatment for Pursley, her surrogate and in vitro fertilization cost $26,000.
The Pursley's son, Liam, was born in 2013.
"There is no price tag on what we have with him. And I would do it again and I would pay every penny out of pocket again, but I wouldn't put that stress on anybody," said Pursley.
"The stress of infertility can be as strong as having cancer," said Dr. Richard Wing, founder of Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte.
Wing said costs are often the biggest hurdle.
"For some patients, it may be very difficult to come up with $12,000 to $14,000," he said.
Nearly four years after the Pursleys' petition, North Carolina still doesn't mandate infertility coverage, but 15 states do:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Pursley said the cost is still putting parenthood out of reach for too many people.
"It's not fair to tell someone they can't have a family because they can't afford it," she said.
The National Infertility Association, Resolve, is encouraging couples to petition their states to make coverage mandatory.
To help families struggling with payment options, NASCAR driver Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, started the Bundle of Joy Fund. The fund awards grants to families to help with the costs associated with IVF treatments (LEARN MORE HERE).
The last time lawmakers considered making infertility coverage mandatory in North Carolina was in 2008.
That Senate bill did not get passed through committee.
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