The New York Department of Financial Services updated its infertility treatment guidelines, announcing that health insurance companies within the state cannot deny coverage to customers based on their sexual orientation or marital status. Those expected to benefit most from the revisions are single women and same-sex couples.
The impetus for this modification stemmed from a review of the definition of “infertility” promulgated by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
“Infertility is a disease, defined by the failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of appropriate, timed unprotected intercourse or therapeutic donor insemination. Earlier evaluation and treatment may be justified based on medical history and physical findings and is warranted after 6 months for women over age 35 years.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided that one’s relationship status, sexual orientation, or gender identity should not outline treatment qualifications and stepped outside of the box of the “infertility” definition.
“All women who wish to have a child are entitled to insurance coverage for fertility treatment regardless of their sexual orientation or marital status, just as all women have the right to reproductive choice and to decide if and when to start a family, and New York will always stand up to protect and preserve those rights,” he said in a statement.
According to Kathleen Hoeger, director of Strong Fertility Center, she hasn’t personally witnessed denial of coverage based on sexual orientation or marital status, although there have been disparities.
“There’s different standards. And so they end up, in all intents and purposes, being shut out of coverage until they meet those criteria,” she told WSKG News.
While many are praising New York for its forward-thinking decision, Hoeger is quick to point out that not all insurance companies may be required to adhere.
“Today in New York we have this law that they have to cover fertility services, but it excludes certain privately funded insurers and self-funded companies. So it’s not as broad as it might otherwise seem. We do have many heterosexual couples who don’t have fertility coverage in New York, because of those restrictions,” she said.
Nonetheless, there’s no denying that the state is far ahead of others in making fertility treatments for its residents a priority.