27 Jan 2020 New Jersey Requires Insurers to Cover Fertility Preservation
New Jersey advocates for reproductive health are celebrating the recent passage of S2 133, a fertility preservation statute signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on January 13, according to a statement from American Society for Reproductive Medicine, or ASRM.
The new law requires that state-licensed insurance carriers must cover the cost of egg or sperm retrieval and cryopreservation, or freezing, of the genetic material for patients who must undergo invasive treatments for illnesses, such as cancer or sickle cell anemia, that may cause infertility.
According to ASRM, the new law “applies to health insurance policies and contracts that are delivered, renewed, extended, or modified in the state by any hospital service corporation, medical service corporation, health service corporation, health maintenance organization, or group health insurance policy with more than 50 people, as well as state and school employee’s health benefits commission.”
Only nine other states have passed similar fertility preservation laws.
New Jersey is one of only 16 U.S. states that require health insurance companies to cover infertility services. Originally enacted in 2001, the state’s Family Building Act requires that any insurer offering pregnancy-related coverage also must cover IVF (in vitro fertilization) and other infertility treatments. The act was updated in 2017 to provide more equitable coverage for single women and lesbians, by changing the official definition of infertility, as reported by NJ.com. Prior to that change in the law—which happened only after four lesbians sued the state—the definition of infertility included failure to conceive after two years of unprotected heterosexual sex, effectively excluding coverage for lesbians and single women. The change to the law also “reduced the waiting period for in vitro fertilization (IVF) coverage from two years to one year for women under age 35, and from one year to 6 months for women over 35, according to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.
Although the expanded definition of infertility in 2017 was a win for same-sex couples and singles, the 2017 update to the law only applies to New Jersey state workers and public school employees, and not to private insurers in the state.
For patients who must under radiation, chemotherapy or other harsh treatments in order to stay alive, the loss of ability to someday reproduce can be devastating. Ensuring the cost of preserving that ability is covered is an act of compassion and patient empowerment.