Fertility Benefits for Active-Duty Service Members

Gifts and bouquets in pastel blue and yellow are arranged on a table in a fluorescent-lit, institutional-type room.
Marines and their spouses attend the quarterly Headquarters and Support Battalion baby shower on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 21, 2018. (Lance Cpl. Megan Roses/Marine Corps)

More Tricare beneficiaries became eligible for fertility treatments in 2024, thanks to a new Defense Department policy that expanded the benefit to unmarried service members and those needing donated eggs or sperm.

Prior to the new policy dated March 8, 2024, the DoD provided fertility treatments -- also referred to as assisted reproductive technology, or ART -- only to certain married service members, and the department prohibited eggs or sperm donated by a third party, effectively barring same-sex couples from the benefit.

Here's who qualifies and what to expect:

Who Qualifies

Unlike in the civilian world, where many employers offer fertility benefits as a perk, in the military, a service member's infertility must stem from a service-connected injury or illness.

Service members do not have to prove they tried to conceive but were unable to. Instead, the DOD determines medical need based on the service member's illness or injury that was received "while on active duty that led to the loss of their ability to procreate without the use of ART," according to the policy. "This includes, but is not limited to, those suffering neurological, physiological, or anatomical injuries."

Furthermore, according to the policy, a service member's injury or illness must rate as "Category II" or "Category III," rendering the individual likely to medically separate.

A spouse, a Tricare-enrolled unmarried partner or a Tricare-enrolled, "third-party gestational carrier" -- aka "a surrogate" -- may be covered for treatment when the service member's infertility prevents conception.

Covered Services

ART services under Tricare fall outside the basic offering, instead categorized as a Supplemental Health Care Program. Services include:

  • Sperm retrieval
  • Egg retrieval
  • In-vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
  • Blastocyst implantation
  • Cryopreservation and storage of embryos

Patients must receive prior authorization for every IUI, gamete (sperm or egg) retrieval, embryo transfer or IVF cycle.

Donated gametes or embryos are allowed but must be acquired at the service member's expense, though "DoD will cost-share the cost of gamete cryopreservation and/or storage" up until the service member leaves the military.

Surrogates who are enrolled in Tricare may participate, but the DOD prohibits their being paid for doing so, with the possible exception of a waiver for travel. The DoD limits the number of attempts it will cover of a given treatment, such as up to six egg retrieval attempts and three completed IVF cycles.

Where to Receive Treatment

The DoD prefers that service members receive covered fertility treatments at a military hospital, and "if possible," private-sector care with Tricare network providers is also covered. The military hospitals offering the services include:

Managing Your Benefit

Timing matters during fertility treatments, and while not required, some service members may receive help managing their fertility benefit efficiently.

The benefit company WIN provides benefit management for the Navy's Aviatrix Project for female naval aviators and for members of the Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard.

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