Health insurance wouldn't help Amanda preserve her fertility—so she took action.
Amanda Rice has been diagnosed with and fought off cancer three times—all before the age of 40.
While trying to familiarize and prepare herself for her treatment options, Rice discovered something almost as jarring as the cancer diagnosis itself. Not only could life-saving treatment jeopardize her ability to become pregnant in the future, but her health insurance was also unwilling to cover the cost to freeze her eggs.
A Chick With a Mission
During her first diagnosis, Rice, founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Chick Mission, was made aware by the hospital’s social work team of the impact that treatment for breast cancer could have on fertility.
She considers herself lucky since she says “many, many hospitals don't tell patients of childbearing age of their [fertility] options.”
Hormone therapy and chemotherapy, which are common treatments for breast cancer, are both known to impede a woman’s fertility by either causing early menopause or damaging eggs.
In an effort to make motherhood a possibility for herself in the future, Rice decided to freeze her eggs prior to cancer treatment. What she thought would be a simple process ended up changing her life forever.
“My insurance plan included a fertility clause, [but] they still denied my fertility coverage,” says Rice.
“You’re not infertile yet,” she was told by her health insurance company. “You don't meet our definition of infertility.”
While Rice was able to afford her own fertility treatments, she quickly realized many others across the country could not do the same. So she decided to do something about it.
Turning Frustration Into Action
“Chick Mission was born purely out of frustration and the need to fix something that was so wrong in the system,” says Rice.
After winning her own battles with cancer, Rice now dedicates part of her time fighting for financial coverage for reproductive services for cancer patients.
“I’ve been so frustrated through my journey, that starting Chick Mission was the beginning of my healing process,” Rice says.
Chick Mission gives grants to women, fundraises for those grants, and educates about fertility preservation options. With help from a small team of friends and fellow survivors, Rice and Chick Mission have been able to financially support more than 40 women and counting.
However, Rice sees these grants as only a temporary solution to a larger problem. Because of this, Chick Mission also advocates for legislative change so that women with cancer won’t need their services in the future.
“We have watched as nine states have changed their laws so far,” Rice says, “and we are not going to stop until all 50 states have passed this law.”
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Chick Mission was born purely out of frustration,
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and the need to fix something that was so wrong in the system.
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The first time that I was diagnosed with cancer,
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at the hospital where I was treated,
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everybody who is of child-bearing age has to speak
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with the social working team.
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They leaned on that team to inform you about the impacts to fertility.
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But later I learned that this is not standard.
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Many, many hospitals don't tell patients of child-bearing age
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about their options.
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When I got the insurance company on the phone
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and explained what I was going through,
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a long road ahead of chemotherapy, radiation,
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my insurance plan included a fertility clause.
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They still denied my fertility coverage.
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You don't qualify for your benefits.
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You're not infertile yet.
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You don't meet our definition of infertility.
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And most states don't mandate that insurance companies cover it.
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I'd been so frustrated through my journey that starting Chick Mission
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was the beginning of my healing process.
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The entire genesis of this was to help women
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understand they had options.
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After they beat their battle with cancer,
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we're on a mission to help them have their own chick one day.
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We educate patients about their options for fertility preservation
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before treatment, we give them monetary support
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to be able to access egg freezing,
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we fundraise to cover those costs.
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(dramatic orchestra music)
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But it's only a temporary solution to the problem.
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We want to be able to help the thousands of patients that get diagnosed.
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We work on the advocacy efforts around changing state laws
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to mandate that insurance companies start covering
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fertility preservation for cancer patients.
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We have watched as nine states have changed their law so far,
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and we are not gonna stop until all 50 states have passed this law.
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(orchestra music fades)