An official website of the United States Government 
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

DOD Amends Assisted Reproductive Services Policy for Seriously, Severely Ill or Injured Active Duty Service Members

The Defense Department has amended its policy covering assisted reproductive technology services to expand access for severely ill and injured active duty service members.

A nurse in medical scrubs measures a pregnant woman’s belly.
Belly Watch
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Megan King, a certified nurse-midwife, uses a tape measure to determine fetal height on a maternity patient at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla., Sept. 18, 2023.
Photo By: Deidre Smith, DOD
VIRIN: 230918-N-QA097-1001Y

Under the amended policy, active duty service members with a qualifying illness or injury may now access this extended benefit regardless of their marital status, and they may now use donor gametes (sperm, egg, or both) and embryos, when procured at their own expense.  

Although active-duty service members with a qualifying illness or injury may begin to use this benefit now, implementation of the amended policy will take some time. The Defense Health Agency, who is responsible for implementing the policy changes, expects necessary updates will be completed by the summer. In the interim, qualifying active duty service members may reach out to their providers to complete the necessary paperwork and begin the process. 

Qualifying active duty service members who have obtained assisted reproductive technology services at their own expense after the effective date of amended policy, will be able to seek reimbursement once the policy is fully implemented.  

Kimberly Lahm, a program director in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs for Health Services Policy and Oversight, said the changes to the policy reflect the department's commitment toward ensuring equity of access to reproductive health care for those who serve. 

"We continue to identify ways to lean forward as much as we can in support of equity of access to reproductive health care for our service members," Lahm said.  

A doctor points to an educational display while speaking to a patient.
IUD Explanation
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Dolan, an obstetrics and gynecology physician, explains a graphic showing an intrauterine device to a patient at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla., March 29, 2023.
Photo By: Deidre Smith, DOD
VIRIN: 230330-N-QA097-001Y

In general, the department is not authorized to provide these services, and they are excluded from TRICARE coverage, except in the provision of these services for active duty service members with a qualifying illness or injury.  

Under the amended policy, qualifying active-duty service members are no longer required to be married to access assisted reproductive technology services, allowing service members with a qualifying illness or injury who are single or in unmarried partnerships to utilize the benefit.  

The amended policy also allows for coverage of assisted reproductive technology services for a qualifying active duty service members' spouse, unmarried partner, or third party surrogate, so long as these parties are enrolled in TRICARE. While the amended policy no longer prohibits the use of a surrogate, paid surrogacy arrangements continued to be excluded.  

Another key change to this policy is the removal of the ban on the use of donor gametes (egg, sperm, or both). Therefore, service members with a qualifying illness or injury may now use donor eggs, sperm or embryos when procured at the service member's expense.  

Lahm said the adjustments to the existing policy are specifically targeted to help more active-duty service members who have suffered a qualifying illness or injury realize their family planning goals, in accordance with DOD authority to provide this benefit.  

Since taking office, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has prioritized efforts to strengthen support for DOD personnel and family members under his "Taking Care of Our Service Members and Families" campaign.  

Those efforts include key initiatives to improve the lives of service members and their families through access to quality and affordable child care and easing the burden of relocation for military families.     

Lahm said women's health policy and access to reproductive care are important areas of focus, within the broader initiative to take care of military families. 

A reserved parking sign for expectant mothers is photographed.
Parking for Mothers
A reserved parking sign for expectant mothers is displayed at Naval Hospital Bremerton, Wash., April 21, 2023.
Photo By: Douglas Stutz
VIRIN: 230503-N-HU933-001Y

That includes Austin's October 2022 directive ensuring access to reproductive health care and expanding contraceptive access through walk-in contraception services at all major military medical treatment facilities, among other initiatives.  

Lahm said ensuring access to reproductive health care gives service members the resources needed to support their family planning goals and is important to overall quality of life.  

"We're doing what we can to support our service members in making the reproductive health decisions that align with their family planning goals," Lahm said. "That is just one example of how we're supporting Secretary Austin's 'taking care of our people' initiative."

Related Stories