LGBT Couple Sues State for Making it More Difficult for Them to Start a Family
On August 8th, the New York Times featured an article on two brave lesbian couples who decided to take the state of New Jersey to court for making it more difficult on them (and others) to receive fertility treatments (and start a family) simply because they are homosexual.
Specifically, their insurance company, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, denied coverage for fertility treatment due to an outdated state insurance mandate requiring women under 35 to first demonstrate their infertility through “two years of unprotected sexual intercourse” before fertility treatments would be covered, effectively barring coverage for same-sex couples.
The lawsuit has been brought against the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance commissioner under the claim that the state mandate discriminates against individuals based on sexual orientation by forcing lesbian women to pay out of pocket for costly fertility treatments while heterosexual women can get them covered by their insurance company.
Complications in State Law Mandates
States can get themselves into trouble in deciding how they word statutes and corresponding definitions, as well as failing to update this language as times change in order to prevent discrimination. For example, in New Jersey, while the state requires that most major insurance companies cover medically necessary treatments for infertile clients, the trouble lies in the definition of “infertile,” which is defined as: the inability to impregnate another person, carry a pregnancy to live birth, or conceive after one or two years of unprotected sex. According to plaintiffs, this effectively violates the constitutional rights of non-heterosexual individuals.
Florida arguably does not even have an infertility insurance mandate. Any mandate that applies is also based on where the policy is issued versus where the person lives. Thus, the state in which the health insurance policy was issued has jurisdiction over what is covered. This results in allowing individuals within the state of Florida to be covered typically only if they enjoy coverage under “imported” infertility and IVF insurance coverage because where their employer established the insurance policy, there just happened to be a mandate to cover infertility treatments.
As of now, fifteen states require insurance companies to cover fertility treatments, but only two (California and Maryland) have updated their state statutes to require these treatments regardless of sexual orientation.
Florida Family Law Attorney Serving LGBT Individuals
If you are an LGBT individual experiencing legal issues when it comes to family law, it is important that you reach out to someone who practices in this area specifically, as these laws and how they are interpreted are in a constant state of flux.
At the law office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., we are proud to have been serving LGBT communities for a number of years, and we can help you reach your goals. Contact our Fort Lauderdale office today; we serve clients in Boca Raton, Broward County, and surrounding areas.