Reproductive advocates call for an update to the definition of infertility as it is used by insurers.
Gay couples across the United States are struggling to obtain fertility treatment insurance coverage. The reason is that the term “infertility” is typically defined by insurers using heterosexual terms.
Conventional coverage requires couples to try to conceive for a year via intercourse to be eligible.
In the majority of states, fertility treatment insurance will require a woman who doesn’t have a male partner to attempt intrauterine insemination as many as one dozen times before a health plan will cover egg donation. However, for a gay couple, the lack of a viable egg between the two men does not fall into the insurance industry – or the legal – definition of a medical issue. As a result, gay couples must pay tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for a donor’s prescriptions and egg retrieval.
When male-male relationships are involved, fertility services are denied. This appears to be because there is no woman present in the relationship, as insurance providers have covered the cost of egg donation for patients of other sexual orientations, said Dr. Mary Wood Molo from the Center for Reproductive Health in Chicago, as quoted by an NBC Chicago report.
The absence of a woman in the relationship often automatically disqualifies gay couples from fertility treatment insurance.
“For hetero and lesbian couples, yes, but not for same-sex male couples — with any [kind of] insurance,” explained Dr. Wood Molo.
As men cannot become pregnant, they are not treated the same way as a couple that includes a woman, or even a woman on her own. This requires gay male couples to have to pay for services that are available to couples of other sexual orientations who want to have children.
When taking into consideration the cost associated with these services – as egg retrieval and donor prescriptions alone can cost $20,000 or more – without fertility treatment insurance makes it financially impossible for gay couples to have children. Reproductive advocates hope that 2021 will mark a defining year in which the law and the insurance industry will take a second look at the way they define infertility.