A bill imposing insurance coverage for the treatment of infertility fails in ND Senate

Senator John Grabinger of D-Jamestown sponsored the bill and said on February 14 that his 23-year-old daughter was the first state-born surrogate birth. His wife, unable to conceive, had a parent carry and deliver their child.

That inspired his political career, said Grabinger. he managed to ensure that the birth form was legal in 1995 just before the birth of his daughter, but he felt that there is still much to be done to help families in these situations by forcing insurers to provide or to offer coverage of infertility treatments.

Fifteen other states have similar legislation covering costly procedures. The bill in North Dakota would cover the cost of up to three treatments and allow families to go beyond the usual $ 20,000 insurance limit, Grabinger said. It includes a cover for the extraction and preservation of eggs, drugs, ultrasound and laboratory tests.

That totaled $ 38,000 for Nurse Practitioner Tara Brandner, of Ashley, ND, who had her first child on January 9, 2018, after months of in vitro fertilization. The proof is in her announcement of pregnancy: hundreds of syringes surround her ultrasound photo.

Brandner was diagnosed with endometriosis, which prevented her from conceiving. She therefore sought treatment at the region's only Reproductive Medicine Clinic, Sanford Health in Fargo.

"It's a medical diagnosis and, therefore, insurance has to cover it," she said. "It is unacceptable that they do not provide comprehensive coverage for this disease and cancer preservation."

She explained that by working with Resolve, the national infertility association, she had heard of young cancer patients who had learned that preserving their fertility to start a family would cost thousands of dollars. People maximize their credit cards, sell homes and draw in savings that will allow them to live "just to start their families." An already emotional and stressful situation is made more difficult by the financial burden, she added.

The bill would include coverage of the treatment of infertility caused by radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Dr. Kristen Cain, reproductive endocrinologist in Sanford, said that preserving fertility meant that "young people with cancer had something to hope for" and that it could be "an important part of their recovery to think about the possibility of starting a family. .

The Sanford Reproductive Clinic welcomed 700 patients last year for insemination, in vitro fertilization and cancer preservation. The cost per treatment cycle can range from $ 500 to $ 15,000, with some patients needing multiple cycles to get a positive pregnancy test.

The inability to conceive is quite common, Cain said, and is considered a disease. About 15% of people under age 35 have a fertility problem, and that figure rises to 60% after 40 years. It supports legislation aimed at financially assisting families in these emotional situations.

"The stress associated with the diagnosis of infertility is the same as that associated with the diagnosis of cancer or HIV," she said.

Brandner said she would continue to fight for the bill, saying "no one should have to suffer that." She wants to be the voice of families in the middle of treatments against infertility unable to defend themselves. With regard to projects with her own family, she said that they had not talked about having another child and that "financial stress was a huge obstacle".

Andrea Dinneen, a Blue Cross spokesperson (Blue Shield, North Dakota), said the insurance company had taken a neutral stance on the bill. In a statement, she wrote that "the treatment of infertility is a benefit covered by our standard benefit plans, and that self-funded employer groups also have the option to provide benefits." ".

She added that "state mandates for coverage of medical services increase the cost of health care and contribute to increased insurance premiums for our members."

Grabinger said that senators opposed to the bill – all Republicans – opposed the mandate's potential to increase insurance rates. He said that if he returned to the Senate in two years, he would try to get the bill back with Brandner.