ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Tuesday, the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee heard testimony on legislation SF 1704, Senator Erin Maye Quade’s bill that would require all health plans with maternity benefits for Minnesota residents also cover diagnosis and treatment of infertility and fertility preservation treatments. Senator Maye Quade (DFL-Apple Valley) testified in support of the bill alongside advocates, doctors, and people who have experienced infertility.
“There were a lot of times throughout my wife’s and I’s marriage where we weren’t sure we were going to be able to become parents. Not because I couldn’t get pregnant, not because we weren’t loving, wonderful adults who were ready to welcome a child into our home, not because we didn’t live in a great school district or have supporting family, but because of cost,” said Senator Maye Quade. “Currently, fertility treatment is limited to those who are fortunate enough to afford it, or go into debt, or raise money, cash in their 401ks, or take out second mortgages. This is not how we want people to be building their families in Minnesota. We want to be sure every person who wants to be a parent, who wants to start or grow their family, is able to do so.”
“Knowing that my journey to parenthood was cut short not because of medical issues but because we ran out of money was the hardest thing I’ve had to do,” said Bethany Taylor, a Minneapolis resident who sought fertility treatments after a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome. “I was 32 years old; most of my friends were starting families, and I was doing nothing but making payments on a loan. Everyone who wants a family should be able to have that right, regardless of financial situation.”
“The lack of affordability and lack of insurance coverage creates access disparities,” said Dr. April Batcheller, who is the reproductive endocrinology and infertility site director of the University of Minnesota Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program. “The lack of affordability also incentivizes patients to pursue more aggressive treatments, such as transferring more embryos to increase their odds of success… Often patients abandon treatment altogether because it’s not financially feasible for them to continue, or they may delay treatment until they’re financially able to pursue treatments, which then decreases their chance of success due to age related fertility decline.”
The World Health Organization, American Medical Association, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all classify infertility as a disease. Infertility affects one in eight couples, and the average cost of invitro fertilization—the most effective treatment—is $15-20,000. Twenty states have already passed laws regarding insurance coverage of infertility treatments.
The committee passed SF 1704 and referred it to the Health and Human Services Committee.