05 Jun Heartening Legislation
The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology is thanking Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker for introducing a bill that would make insurance for reproductive technology procedures a federal mandate. The bill is called the Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act. It was introduced in Congress as HR2803 and in the Senate as S1461. It is similar to a bill that did not make it through Congress a year ago.
Advancing the rights of women
The bill advances the right of women to have insurance that covers infertility and the treatments required to become pregnant. Along with that right is the guarantee that women have access to coverage for freezing eggs in the event that medical treatment she is undergoing may lead to infertility. If the bill passes, a woman, anticipating the possibility that she may become infertile due to undergoing chemotherapy or any other medical treatment, would have to the right to purchase insurance that covered storing her eggs for future use.
While 15 states have laws that require medical insurance companies to include infertility treatments as part of their policies, the majority of states do not. Slightly separate from the group of 15 are California and Texas, which require health insurers to offer infertility treatment as an option on their health insurance. However, insurers are not required in those two states to grant the insurance if it is not specifically requested.
Critically, the bill that was introduced May 24 in the House and the Senate will extend coverage to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, TRICARE, the Veterans Administration and Medicaid. This ensures an infertility coverage mandate for federal programs that would otherwise sidestep state requirements.
In a statement, Hugh Taylor, M.D., vice president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale School of Medicine said, “for far too long, too many infertility patients in the United States have not been able to obtain insurance coverage for their treatment.”
”No one should have to give up on their dreams to have a child because they cannot afford treatment out of pocket,” he said.
Said Congresswoman DeLauro, “When people do not have insurance coverage for infertility treatment and care, they must make impossible choices between essentials like food, clothing, and housing or paying out of pocket to have a child … They deserve the opportunity to grow their family.”
Reproductive Assistance is Not Rare
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about 10 percent of women in the country of childbearing age have received assistance for treatment of infertility, defined as the inability to conceive after a year of unprotected sex. Treatment under the general umbrella of assisted reproductive technology includes in vitro fertilization. In fact, the NCSL’s website says 72,913 babies were born in the United States in 2015 as a result of assisted reproductive technology, which comes to 1.9 percent of all the births in the country that year.
The number seems very low compared to the statistics on untreated infertility. About 12 percent of all couples — one in eight – have difficulty conceiving, said Senator Booker’s office. “Infertility is a common medical condition,” said Booker. “But few health insurance plans cover its treatment.”
Insurance coverage trends show a wide gap in this regard. A recent survey found that nearly half of the large employers in the country (with 500 or more employees) offered health insurance that did not cover infertility treatment. About a quarter of all companies with 20,000 or more employees did not cover infertility treatment.