Wouldn’t it be great if insurance companies were required to provide coverage for medically necessary expenses for standard fertility preservation services when a medical treatment may directly or indirectly cause infertility to an enrollee or insured? California Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, thinks so too and recently introduced CA bill AB 912, which proposes to do just that. On behalf of the Oncofertility Consortium, we support bill AB 912, and we encourage others to learn more about the positive implications of this bill as well.
AB 912 provides for insurance and HMO coverage of fertility preservation services when future fertility will be put at-risk by treatment of a disease such as cancer, sickle-cell anemia or lupus. While the numbers of people who will need the services is likely to be small, for those people facing a life-altering disease which could require chemotherapy or radiation or both with a high potential for causing infertility after treatment, this coverage could make all the difference. People who have the option for these services score much higher on quality of life measures after treatment. Probably more importantly is that by providing this coverage, the patient is able to keep focus on what would be the best therapy for their disease, without having to worry about the effect on their future fertility.
Mandating insurance coverage for fertility preservation will transform the quality of life for cancer survivors. Fortunately, the relatively small numbers of people in their reproductive years who will need this care will only minimally impact insurance premiums when spread out amongst all insured persons. Without insurance coverage, patients may forgo fertility preservation, which may result in compounded costs for the survivor years later when trying to build a family.
While the cost to preserve fertility is relatively modest, most patients are unable to afford this unexpected out-of-pocket expense, especially at a time when they may be facing other significant cost pressures surrounding the treatment. A short time frame between diagnosis and treatment that does not allow time to seek appeal when insurance companies deny fertility preservation coverage further complicates this.
As survivorship for a typical cancer improves, the ability to bear children after therapy is an understandable and expected concern. For some patients, cancer treatment options may be decided based on its risk of fertility loss rather than fully focusing on its effectiveness to cure the cancer. AB 912 will provide fertility preservation insurance coverage for patients undergoing treatments known to compromise fertility. This is an equitable and cost-effective solution to a foreseeable harm from medically necessary treatment. Please support bill AB 912, ensuring fertility preservation coverage for those who may lose their reproductive potential through no fault of their own.