Creating a healthcare system with less discrimination for LGBTQ+ parents
Legislation in New York state will require larger insurance companies to cover the cost of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), changing the lesbian, gay, trans, queer + family building game.
Right now, nearly one fifth of people in the U.S. deal with the reality of infertility, and the treatment that many would pursue, In Vitro Fertilization, is a problematic option: Insurance companies are not required to cover IVF, and at $12,000 to $20,000 a round, it’s simply too expensive – and if families work to make one round happen, second and third rounds are out of the question. For some LGBTQ couples, like cisgender gay male couples, IVF is one of their only options for biological children. Economic inequality and lack of insurance coverage create another roadblock that’s keeping families from happening (News 12).
The State of New York is taking steps to remedy this: Slowly but surely, The Fair Access to Fertility Treatment Act (FAFTA) legislation is becoming a reality. Introduced by 36th District Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas in 2016, FAFTA would update current insurance law to match with our 2019 reality.
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association has been working tirelessly to get this language passed. This bill was introduced in January 2019, (S719/A2817), and though not all parts have passed, sections of the bill have moved forward to committee review as of March, and budget negotiations are underway. Barbara Collura, RESOLVE President & CEO, makes clear their mission in helping move forward this legislation: “For so many people struggling to build families, these insurance requirements will offer a lifeline. . . we thank Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for taking action to help families across the state get the medical treatments they not only need, but deserve.”
At Gay Parents To Be, we’re excited by the progress we’ve made so far. The following parts of the bill have passed:
- 3 cycles (fresh or frozen) of in vitro fertilization for people covered in the fully-insured large market
- Medically necessary fertility preservation medical services for people covered in fully insured individual, small group, and large group markets
- A non-discrimination clause – no discrimination for this coverage based on gender, marital status, or sexual orientation.
Better insurance coverage is a huge step for anyone who wants/needs to pursue IVF treatments. And for LGBTQ parents, there’s an added layer of the looming possibility of discrimination: We worry if our insurance companies will see IVF treatment as unnecessary, a result of a “lifestyle.” But what if those factors were off the table – What if the law protected you from discrimination throughout the IVF process? For some cis gay men, this would mean coverage and access to IVF treatments currently unavailable to them. Which would mean building a family without worrying about high cost or hostile bigotry.
While CT has its own insurance bill, it does not include this vital non-discrimination language, and does not cover LGBTQ parents-to-be. As a population that often relies on family building medical treatments, this is not acceptable, and we’re hoping CT will follow NY’s good example. Simotas is rightly proud of this legislation. These changes would benefit all parents who want to expand their families through IVF. She explains: “It simply makes no sense that state lines should determine which Americans are offered the assistance to build a family and which are not.”
Molly Booth is a queer/bi writer and educator. She holds a Masters degree from UMass Boston, and she’s the founder of a Massachusetts LGBTQIA+ educational nonprofit. She’s also the author of queer young adult fiction novels SAVING HAMLET (2016) and NOTHING HAPPENED (2018) both published by Disney Hyperion. Recently, Molly wrote and presented a conference paper on queer theory at a national conference. Visit her on twitter @mollygbooth and on her website mollybooth.com.