September 30, 2011

Become an Advocate for Infertility Benefits

In 1987, the Massachusetts state legislature mandated that certain infertility benefits be provided by commercial insurers. This notable achievement was accomplished in large part due to the efforts of Resolve, a non-profit patient advocacy organization.  Resolve, founded in Massachusetts in 1974, is now a national organization that continues to provide education, support and advocacy for infertile couples.

More recently, Resolve was instrumental in passing an amendment to the original mandate.  The amendment clarifies the definition of infertility.  The original definition required insurance coverage for couples with the “inability to conceive”.  For those couples with recurrent miscarriages or pregnancy loss, the mandate did not always apply.  Although not with successful pregnancy outcomes, these couples were “able to conceive” and were being denied insurance benefits.  As of November 2010, the mandate amendment now reads: “‘infertility’ shall mean the condition of an individual who is unable to conceive or produce conception during a period of 1 year if the female is age 35 or younger or during a period of 6 months if the female is over the age of 35. For purposes of meeting the criteria for infertility in this section, if a person conceives but is unable to carry that pregnancy to live birth, the period of time she attempted to conceive prior to achieving that pregnancy shall be included in the calculation of the 1 year or 6 month period, as applicable”

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is currently reviewing Bill S.430, “An Act relative to in vitro fertilization for the purposes of genetic testing”.  The bill was filed in January 2011 and sponsored by State Senator Brian Joyce.  It requests a further amendment to the original mandate permitting coverage for preimplantation genetic testing (see PGD on our website).  The bill redefines the definition of infertility, stating: “For purposes of meeting the criteria for infertility in this section, if a person conceives but is unable to carry that pregnancy to live birth, the period of time she attempted to conceive prior to achieving that pregnancy shall be included in the calculation of the 1 year or 6 month period, as applicable or B) any of the following: if 1)both partners are known carriers of the same single gene autosomal recessive gene disorder or 2) one or both partners are known carriers of a single gene autosomal dominant gene disorder or 3) one or both partners are known carriers of a single X-linked disorder.”  The fate of Bill S. 430 is yet to be announced; supportive communication to your legislator may ultimately define this bill’s outcome.

Finally, at a national level, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced Family Act of 2011, Bill S 965.  This bill, if approved, would provide tax credit for expenses incurred with infertility medical treatments.  The bill is modeled after the existing adoption tax credit.  Go to the Family Act ‘s Facebook site to see what you can do as an advocate for infertility benefits.

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Medical Director,

Medical Director, Fertility Centers of New England