By Bill Parry
New Yorkers struggling with infertility would be guaranteed coverage by their health insurance plans for in-vitro fertilization under a bill sponsored by state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), which passed the Assembly May 15.
Additionally, the bill, known as the Fair Access to Fertility Treatment Act, repeals discriminatory restrictions on coverage that are based on age, disability, medical dependency or personal characteristics, such as marital status or sexual orientation.
“When people struggle with infertility they are dealing with a heart-breaking medical condition,” Simotas said. “So it is unconscionable that in-vitro fertilization, which is the gold standard of treatment, is so expensive that it’s out-of-reach for couples wanting to have children. It’s time to give people the benefit of the best treatments available when they want to have a family, without discriminating on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation of other personal characteristics.”
The measure, A02646A, also provides a clear definition of infertility as a disease characterized by the incapacity to impregnate or the inability to conceive, as diagnosed by a physician or the failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. The bill would also require coverage for fertility preservation services for cancer patients and others whose necessary medical treatments, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy threaten reproductive health.
“This legislation brings an outdated law into current times and allows infertility patients, and cancer patients looking to preserve their fertility, access to a medical treatment that is the standard of care,” National Infertility Association President and CEO Barbara Collura said. “Passing this bill means New Yorkers will have a better chance of realizing their dreams and becoming parents.”
It is estimated that one in eight individuals or couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a full-term pregnancy. Yet nearly half of individuals affected by infertility lack insurance coverage for the necessary treatment. Compared to other treatments presently covered under New York state law, in-vitro fertilization results in fewer pregnancy complications and fewer high-risk births, according to Simotas.
“This legislation has the potential to save millions of dollars in long-term health care costs, since patients would no longer be forced to rely on higher risk medical procedures,” Simotas said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr