Lawmakers file bill to require health insurance coverage for infertility after advocates push for change

This week we celebrate International Women’s Day.  We will take a look at some health issues that impact women.

One out of six couples struggle with infertility.  Now South Carolina legislators have introduced a bill that would require health insurance providers provide coverage.  A Columbia woman is one of the women driving this movement.  She’s doing what she can to remove roadblocks in her journey to parenthood.

Thirty-nine-year-old Andrena King married the love of her life Christopher in 2013. A few years later, they tried to start their family.  “For us, financially it has been a tremendous strain and different infertility treatment options that we would have considered, we can’t go that route because financially we just can’t afford it,” says King. “Our journey started maybe about two years ago. My husband and I we started the process in regards to trying to start our family. In the process of doing that, as we would go to doctor’s appointments, they would always come back and say your insurance doesn’t cover this.  My plan doesn’t cover anything.  My husband’s plan doesn’t cover anything.”

Then Andrena looked for answers.  She says, “After going to different appointments, I started doing research, and saw that there are 15 states that do have mandates for insurance companies to cover certain things as it relates to infertility treatment. I started contacting my local legislators. We’re excited to finally have the ball rolling where we have the pre-filing of this legislation, so we can get some type of coverage. Of course it will have some exclusions, but it would definitely make it more possible for a lot of couples to  be able to explore other treatment options.”

The bil, S-10, filed at the end of last year by senators Glenn Reese, Kevin Johnson, Mia McLeod  is currently in the committee on Banking and Insurance  It would require health insurance providers to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility with exceptions. Some of the exceptions in the bill deal with age limits and number of inseminations and sperm donations.   Andrena says, “It’s very stressful. You work on a job.  You pay for insurance, and a lot of times it’s medical issues why couples can’t conceive, and to have them say we’re not going to cover this. It’s very frustrating.  So we are really trying to get the word out to get individuals to contact their legislators, so they can really support the S-10 legislation.”

Dr. Stephanie Singleton with The Fertility Center of Charleston says cost is a big factor when it comes to patients not getting help.   She says depending on diagnosis,  treatment can range from less than a thousand dollars up to 18 thousand dollars.  Dr. Singleton says, “Sometimes insurance will pay for it.  More often insurance will pay for testing, but don’t always pay for treatment.”  As it relates to the legislation, Dr. Singleton says,”I think that’s going to be incredibly helpful to a lot of patients, and we know they are states especially in the Northeast that already have this kind of coverage.  There are certain companies that already supplies this kind of coverage to their employees, and that helps patients feel more comfortable building their families and seeking this treatment.” Dr. Singleton says The Fertility Center of Charleston offers financing  programs. They also offer medication savings programs, that save patients 25 to 75 percent off their medications..

Andrena says her faith and support groups helped her through this process.  “Our faith has definitely sustained us  because this process is very draining emotionally, mentally, physically,” King says.  “For us, it would give us more opportunity to maybe explore some other treatment options that we hadn’t considered before. We’ve been at this for two years, and our desire is to have a child. We want to be parents.   I feel like with insurance coverage that would make that dream for us possible.  It’s not just about my husband and I. I know so many people who are going through this, and i know it would be beneficial for years and year to come.  We’re excited.  We know that there is still a process. We need everyone out there advocating to make sure we get this legislation passed.”

For a closer look at infertility insurance coverage bill, click here http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess122_2017-2018/bills/10.htm.

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