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Getting to this point can be very expensive if in-vitro fertilization is involved. (iStockphoto)

Sharing Risk Can Help Tame The Cost Of Infertility Treatment

by Michelle Andrews
Sep 2, 2014 (Kaiser Health News)

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Infertility treatment is a numbers game in some respects: How many treatments will it take to conceive a child? And how much can you afford?

Even as insurance plans are modestly improving their coverage of such treatments, clinics and others are coming up with creative ways to cover the costs to help would-be parents reduce their risk for procedures that can run tens of thousands of dollars. Some even offer a money-back guarantee if patients don't conceive, while one online program lets people pool some funding.

Shady Grove Fertility, a large center with sites in Maryland, eastern Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., has a number of programs to help people afford infertility treatment. The center pioneered a "shared-risk" program for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment years ago that offered a 100 percent refund if a couple didn't have a baby. Now the center offers a similar program for couples who use donor eggs to conceive. Other fertility centers offer versions of these programs.

Both Shady Grove shared-risk programs allow couples to try up to six cycles of IVF or donor eggs for a flat fee. If they don't have a baby, they get the full amount back; couples can also stop at any point in the process and get a full refund. The program costs twice as much as a single cycle — $20,000 for shared-risk IVF and $30,000 for shared-risk egg donor.

"In reality, patients who get a baby on the first cycle are subsidizing those who don't get a baby," says Michael Levy, president and IVF director at Shady Grove. "We see this as an opportunity to give patients security regarding the financial risk that they face."

Shared-risk and other programs are popular in part because health insurance coverage for infertility treatment, while slowly improving, is still sparse. Fifteen states require insurers to cover infertility treatment to varying degrees, according to Resolve, an infertility advocacy group. Among employers with more than 500 workers, 65 percent cover a specialist evaluation, 41 percent cover drug therapy and 27 percent cover in vitro fertilization, according to human resources consultant Mercer's 2013 employer benefits survey. Thirty-two percent of large companies don't cover infertility services at all.

There are other ways to manage the cost of infertility treatment. In addition to shared-risk programs, many fertility clinics offer other discounts and financing options to help couples afford treatment. Other companies also offer financing and/or infertility insurance to help cover the costs for couples who are working with a surrogate to have a baby, for example, or for IVF treatments.

Glow is one of the most recent companies to offer a program to help address the financial uncertainties around infertility and treatment. The company, which is best known for an app that helps women track ovulation and other pregnancy-related health data, started Glow First last August for couples worried about infertility.

Participants pay $50 monthly for up to 10 months. The money is pooled with contributions from people who also started the program that month. At the end of 10 months, those who haven't become pregnant split the pot of money; Glow will pay their share to an accredited infertility clinic once they submit their bills for fertility testing or other services. The company does not take a cut, according to the Glow website, but there are no refunds for participants who change their minds.

The first group that began contributing in October 2013 has just ended. Roughly 50 people participated, according to the company. The payout to those who didn't become pregnant was $1,800.

"This relatively minimal contribution will help to offset those downstream and very high costs" of fertility testing and treatment, says Jennifer Tye, Glow's head of marketing and partnerships.

Copyright 2014 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/.

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Alt-J will perform its new album, This Is All Yours, live on Sept. 2. (Courtesy of the artist)

First Listen Live: Alt-J, 'This Is All Yours'

by Russ Borris
Sep 2, 2014 (WFUV-FM)

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A unique band with a sound that's hard to pin down, alt-J makes music that's electronic but somewhat folky; it's got elements of dub but isn't exactly danceable. At a time when it's difficult for musicians to set themselves apart, alt-J has created a truly fresh, unpredictable sound.

An Awesome Wave, the band's 2012 debut, won a well-deserved Mercury Prize and spawned appearances at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Coachella and the Glastonbury Festival in 2013. So how does the British band face a potential sophomore slump? It's simply gone and made another beautiful and strange record that sounds like alt-J and nobody else. Join NPR Music and WFUV for a Live First Listen to This Is All Yours on Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 9 p.m.

Copyright 2014 WFUV-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wfuv.org.

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Hozier, performing his new song "Jackie and Wilson" (Courtesy of the artist)

Hozier, 'Jackie And Wilson'

Sep 2, 2014 (WFUV-FM)

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The song title "Jackie and Wilson" is a playful nod, of course, to the great R&B singer Jackie Wilson. And don't worry — Hozier, the 24-year-old Irish soul singer and guitarist, has the grace and the backbeat to make it work.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne has already released two hit-filled EPs, and on Oct. 7, he'll finally release his first album. A version of this song will be on that record, but in the meantime, you can watch Hozier perform it live with his band in the studio.

When asked to elaborate about the song title, Hozier wrote us an email to explain his love for the great Jackie Wilson, who died 6 years before Hozier was born:

"He's a big influence for me, he's fantastic. I think Elvis was the white Jackie Wilson, rather than any other way 'round. I suppose the song is about being lost. There's sometimes a recurring theme of looking from the outside in and idealising some idea of somebody or something as a cure for oneself. It's also me trying to enjoy writing something more fun, playing something more fun."

I particularly love the payoff line in this song: "We'll name our children / Jackie and Wilson / Raise them on rhythm and blues."

We've had Hozier play a Tiny Desk Concert here at NPR, and it's another nice peek into his heartfelt live performance. He's about to start a tour and many of the shows are already sold out. If you can make it to a concert, I'd say do it.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Hozier, performing his new song "Jackie and Wilson" (Courtesy of the artist)

Book News: New Haruki Murakami Book Coming Out In December

by Annalisa Quinn
Sep 2, 2014 (WFUV-FM)

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The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • A new Haruki Murakami book is coming out in English in December. Murakami's just-released Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage has topped The New York Times' hardcover fiction bestseller lists and reportedly inspired some Londoners to wait in line overnight to meet Murakami at a book signing. His next novel, the 96-page The Strange Library, tells the story of a boy who stops at his local library and encounters an old man who holds him captive and forces him to read books, planning to eat his brain in order to absorb his knowledge. With his fellow captives, a girl with some unusual talents and a sheep-man, the boy tries to escape. It will be translated from Japanese by Ted Goossen and published by Knopf.
  • An unpublished early chapter of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which features disobedient boys being sent to a fudge-pounding room, has been printed in The Guardian, as NPR's Krishnadev Calamur noted yesterday. In the chapter, boys by the names of Wilbur Rice and Tommy Troutbeck pay insufficient heed to Willy Wonka's warning not to ride on a wagon down a mountain of fudge, and are transported to the ominously named Pounding And Cutting Room. "In there," Wonka writes, "the rough fudge gets tipped out of the waggons into the mouth of a huge machine. The machine then pounds it against the floor until it is all nice and smooth and thin. After that, a whole lot of knives come down and go chop chop chop, cutting it up into neat little squares, ready for the shops." A worker on the mountain of fudge - a proto-Oompa Loompa- sings, "Eight little children - such charming little chicks. But two of them said 'Nuts to you,' and then there were six." The Guardian says that the chapter was originally "deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral" to be published.
  • Eleanor Catton, who won last year's Man Booker Prize with her novel The Luminaries, will create a grant designed to give writers "time to read." She announced the grant while accepting the people's choice and best fiction prizes at the New Zealand Post Book Awards. Catton said, "Writers are readers first; indeed our love of reading is what unites us above all else. If our reading culture in New Zealand is dynamic, diverse, and informed, our writing culture will be too."
  • Henry Holt has acquired the rights to a new biography of Robin Williams, to be written by New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff, who interviewed him a number of times. "Robin Williams was a cultural hero of mine, and in the encounters and interactions I was able to share with him, he was always gentle and generous, humane and thoughtful and hilarious," Itzkoff said in a press release. Henry Holt hasn't announced the book's title or publication date.
  • For The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance profiles a guy who used to dig through John Updike's trash: "[Paul] Moran has kept thousands of pieces of Updike's garbage — a trove that he says includes photographs, discarded drafts of stories, canceled checks, White House invitations, Christmas cards, love letters, floppy disks, a Mickey Mouse flip book, and a pair of brown tasseled loafers. It is a collection he calls 'the other John Updike archive,' an alternative to the official collection of Updike's papers maintained by Harvard's Houghton Library. The phrase doubles as the name of the disjointed blog he writes, and it raises fundamental questions about celebrity, privacy, and who ultimately determines the value and scope of an artist's legacy."
  • And in other Charlie and the Chocolate Factory news: In an essay about a jacket design for the book, The New Yorker's Margaret Talbot veers into a discussion of the never-ending will-reading-YA-turn-our-brains-to-mush debate: "That adults are reading young-adult books does not necessarily augur badly for the state of fiction or intellectual life. What does seem discouraging is that this literary debate is one of the liveliest going on these days."
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Hozier, performing his new song "Jackie and Wilson" (Courtesy of the artist)

32 Teens Escape From Nashville-Area Detention Center

by Eyder Peralta
Sep 2, 2014 (WFUV-FM)

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Police near Nashville spent the night raking the city with dogs and helicopters in search for 32 teens who escaped from a detention center in Bordeaux, Tenn.

Blake Farmer of NPR member station WPLN tells our Newscast unit that 17 of them are still on the loose. Blake sent this report:

"Young men were found hiding in drainage pipes and in bushes, according to WZTV. The mass exodus started around 11 pm during a shift change. A spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services says the 32 young men — ages 14 to 18 — slipped a perimeter fence at the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in North Nashville.

"Half a dozen teens escaped the same facility in May, though they didn't get far. The center is one of three that houses and treats delinquent youth in Tennessee. Most have committed at least three felonies."

The AP reports authorities still don't know whether the escape was planned or spontaneous. The wire service adds that authorities said the detention center was "calm and back under control Tuesday morning."

The center was holding a total of 78 teens.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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