Minnesota bill would require insurance coverage for infertility treatment

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota bill that advocates hope will pass the state legislature this year would require public and private insurance coverage of infertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination.

The bill, dubbed the “Minnesota Building Families Act,” says co-pays and deductibles for treatments can’t exceed what someone has to pay for maternity benefits under their health plan and the procedures must be deemed medically necessary. Coverage must include unlimited embryo transfers, but may limit the number of egg retrievals—a key step for in vitro—to four. 

“We know that people are experiencing infertility and there are medical services available to them to treat it. It is a disease for some people like anything else and health insurance should cover it plain and simple, public and private,” said Sen. Erin May Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, who noted her own state health plan as a senator covered some of the costs for fertility care she and her wife needed to have a family. 

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The proposal was first discussed last year, before it failed to make it into a larger health funding and policy package. Its authors and dozens of Minnesotans pushing for passage hope this year it clears the necessary legislative hurdles, so parents facing infertility as soon as this summer won’t be priced out of starting a family.

“Lack of insurance coverage is the number one barrier to care,” said Barb Collura, president and CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. “Struggling to build a family is already physically or emotionally exhausting. The lack of insurance for needed medical treatment is doubly crushing.”

One in seven Minnesotans is impacted by infertility, or 185,000 people, according to Resolve.The group said 21 other states have similar legislation and insurance premiums have increased by less than 1% in places where the mandate has been implemented. 

Collura said costs vary depending on the type of procedure, but one in vitro cycle can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. Anna Prisacari from Minnetonka told WCCO that her insurance did cover some of her fertility treatments, but she still paid $60,000 out-of-pocket over the course of her four-year journey to get pregnant.

Jennifer Stein of Champlin said her husband had to preserve his sperm before treatment for leukemia, which impacted his fertility. She is grateful that insurance covered some of the cost, and that they were successful on their first round of in vitro, but she wants lawmakers to pass the legislation to remove the financial barriers keeping others from having a family.

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All in, she paid more than $4,000 after insurance benefits were paid out. 

“We’ve had people say, ‘if you can’t afford it, maybe it’s just not meant to be,’ and that’s really tough to hear, because why should we have gone through such a tough journey and tough battle and not get that opportunity?,” Stein said.

The legislation has received bipartisan support in the past, though it’s unclear if it has Republican votes today. Democrats control the House, Senate and governor’s office and May Quade said it’s her top priority to get it signed into law this year.

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