Egg freezing now covered for cancer patients in California
[San Francisco, 15 October 2019]
Fertility preservation for cancer patients must be covered by health insurance companies under a new California law, giving thousands of people more reproductive choice.
Senate Bill 600, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on October 12, 2019, declares that egg and sperm freezing are considered a “basic healthcare service” for men and women about to undergo medical treatments like chemotherapy, which are likely to cause infertility. As such, California insurers are now legally required to cover the costs of these procedures.
Previously, some insurance plans covered fertility preservation if it was judged medically necessary, but the vast majority of patients have had to pay for the procedure out of pocket. In cases in which insurance claims were denied, cancer patients would not often have enough time to submit another claim before chemotherapy treatment would need to commence.
“Egg freezing comes with an average price tag of $12,500 per cycle. For many patients about to undergo chemotherapy, this causes enormous financial and emotional strain, especially on top of the existing deductibles, copays and loss of earnings associated with cancer treatment,” said Brittany Hawkins, co-author of Everything Egg Freezing and reproductive health advocate. “This is a massive step forward for people who might otherwise have to choose between life-saving treatment and the chance to have a biological child.”
The new legislation does not mean insurers must cover fertility services for those already diagnosed with infertility for other reasons, such as age. A separate bill that would have required fertility treatment to be covered in all cases failed to pass the Legislature earlier this year, despite 14 other states already requiring insurance companies to cover infertility treatment, with most of those including IVF. Some health insurers and other opponents argue that extending coverage would force them to raise premiums for everyone.
Campaigners welcome this as a step in the right direction, but argue for legislation to be expanded to include further coverage for all cases of infertility.
“This move is welcomed by patients and many clinics,” says Hawkins. “Our hope now is not only that California extends coverage to all those struggling with infertility, whatever the cause, but that all 51 states follow suit.”
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