Providing Same-Sex Couples With Equal Fertility Benefits
Recently, the New York Times looked at the costs some same-sex couples face when trying to conceive; for example, those trying to raise enough funds to afford intrauterine insemination (IUI), which can cost couples tens of thousands of dollars. Insurers often will not cover these treatments for same-sex couples, even plans sometimes do cover fertility treatments for heterosexual couples. Why? Because they are same-sex couples, according to the article.
The Definition of Infertility
Specifically, the definition of infertility, as used by the insurance companies, is the “inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected heterosexual intercourse.” Thus, women who use sperm donors, conversely, must pay for the more costly physician-supervised donor insemination for a full year before they meet this definition (or having had six failed attempts if 35 or older).
Is This Discrimination?
Shockingly, some policies even exclude unwed women, but they will cover fertility treatments when the issue is male infertility (for wed couples). And of course, a male couple would likely face even more hurdles, as there would be no option for coverage of the woman who is carrying a child for them. Is this discrimination, and if so, isn’t it barred by state law? While some of the companies claim that it is because lesbian couples require medical intervention to conceive, LGBT rights advocates point out that if a woman has a condition that precludes her from getting pregnant, any requirements to go through a period of unprotected intercourse are lacking, making the situation unequal.
In addition, the companies have, at times, reneged on their promise to cover after 12 months of trying as well. Specifically, one individual tried 12 times to conceive using the IUI method, as prescribed, but her insurance company turned around and declined to cover her because they said, after 12 months of trying, she now qualified for in vitro fertilization, which the policy did not cover. As the article points out, this policy is reminiscent of a Catch-22 for LGBT couples and single women.
Although companies claim that they are simply relying on the clinical definition of infertility to make these guidelines, others respond that this could still be discrimination and, in fact, it may simply not be fair to rely on the clinical definition in the case of same-sex couples because it has the effect of treating some people differently.
Florida does not have an infertility insurance mandate, which means that heterosexual couples are also feeling the heavy financial burden of fertility treatments. Regardless, particularly in those states that do have the mandate, this “double standard of reimbursement” for heterosexual and homosexual couples reeks of discrimination; specifically, sexual orientation discrimination.
Florida Family Law Attorney
Family law issues—including fertility and LGBT rights—are in a constant state of flux. Sometimes it is crucial to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to ensure that you are not facing discrimination or any other wrongful treatment or denial of your rights. Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., is proud to serve LGBT communities and is available to help you with any family law issues. Contact us today; we serve Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and Broward County.