Covering the cost of fertility treatments in Louisiana
Louisiana lawmakers will soon debate legislation that aims to require insurance companies cover infertility treatments under certain conditions. It’s introduced in the 2023 session as House Bill (HB) 186.
MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The reality for some people trying to build their family is the obstacle of infertility and the expense of treating the medical condition. A Monroe-based attorney is advocating for a solution that could help people across the state cover the cost.
“We’ve had to deplete savings, we’ve had to borrow, we’ve had family donations.”
The emotional and financial strain to hold her own bundle of joy has created a world of hurt for attorney Kristen B. Pleasant.
“We were diagnosed with infertility in 2017. We put off our medical treatment for infertility, primarily because of cost, initially,” said Pleasant.
Fertility treatments can cost up to $20,000 a session, not including the cost of medication.
“In us putting our treatment off, I developed uterine fibroids and I had to have major surgery to correct that,” Pleasant explained.
Kristen has since undergone eight In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment attempts in Shreveport, New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi. IVF involves implanting a fertilized egg into the uterus through surgery.
“There are times you can’t get viable embryos. That’s why I’ve had to do it multiple times,” she said.
The Pleasant family is not alone. Fertility Answers shared stats that show one in eight American couples struggle with infertility each year.
State Representative Paula Davis of Baton Rouge considers herself blessed to have had no complications starting her own family. It’s one of the reasons she’s passionately leading the charge to help others.
“To hear these stories and the struggles, it tears your heart apart,” the lawmaker said.
Legislation to require Louisiana insurance companies to cover the cost of infertility treatments stalled last year. Davis said a constituent inspired her to author it.
House Bill 537 would have required health insurance plans to provide coverage for standard fertility preservation services, such as IVF and preservation of eggs or sperm before medical treatments, under certain conditions.
“A lot of states do provide some hurdles into getting that coverage. For instance, if you are over the age of 35, you have to have been trying for six months or more to have a child. Less than 35, it’s up to a year. So it’s not like anyone can just come and say ‘Hi, I’m newly married and I want to go through the IVF process and I want insurance to pay for it’,” Davis explained.
The Department of Insurance and Blue Cross Blue Shield compiled data for lawmakers estimating the cost to be between $1.6 million to 5 million dollars per year by mid-2026.
Davis stressed fertility doctors across the state believe that the price tag is “over-inflated”.
“It was very high for what we’re seeing in other states. Especially the fertility preservation piece. In California, for example, and in other states. It’s between a cent to 10 cents per member per month,” said Davis.
Pleasant’s goal is to break stigmas surrounding the diagnoses of infertility, especially in the Black community.
“A lot of us are not going to the doctor for it because we automatically assume that we can’t afford it. But if we’re able to have coverage for it, then that’s going to break those barriers and allow everyone in our community to have access to care,” Pleasant said.
She said she is fighting to bring her future children into this world. And others, too.
“The work is not done until everyone that has been diagnosed with infertility has access to these treatments,” Pleasant said.
Lawmakers plan to take up the issue again in April 2023.
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