The bill had bipartisan support but failed to gain majority support, despite pleas from parents battling infertility. Advocates will keep trying.
The North Dakota House of Representatives rejected a proposal that would have provided insurance coverage for fertility treatment for public employees.
But an advocate for fertility treatment said she still hasn’t given up, and will continue to work to get insurance coverage to help couples who are battling infertility.
“We’ll be back every year until they pass this,” said Tara Brandner, a Bismarck nurse practitioner and advocate for insurance coverage for fertility treatments. “I won’t stop,” she said Wednesday, March 1.
House Bill 1146 would have required coverage for fertility health care, including diagnosis and treatment.
In a committee hearing for the bill, couples battling infertility pleaded for the insurance coverage, noting that the treatments are costly and sometimes require multiple rounds of treatment.
In vitro fertilization is the most costly form of treatment, but Brandner said those treatments are rarely needed.
For those who require IVF treatments, however, one round can exhaust the $15,000 or $20,000 limit many insurance policies impose, Brandner said. And as Booth’s example shows, couples sometimes must undergo multiple rounds.
The bill didn’t impose a dollar limit on fertility treatment, but did cap the number of covered treatments.
The bill would have required coverage for three completed cycles of intrauterine insemination. Coverage also would be required for a maximum of four egg retrievals with unlimited fresh or frozen embryo transfers. The bill also mandated coverage for medical and laboratory services that reduce excess embryo creation through egg cryopreservation and thawing “in accordance with a covered individual’s religious or ethical beliefs.”
The bill would have applied only to the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System, or NDPERS, but coverage later might have applied to private insurance. NDPERS already offers the benefit, but coverage would have changed under the bill, Brandner said.
The fiscal note attached to the bill estimated the per-biennium cost to the NDPERS insurance program at $13.6 million, or 2.1% of the premium.
Estimates of the premium cost of the fertility treatment coverage mandate range from $1.98 per member per month to $24.85, according to the Sanford Health Plan, while a consultant priced the benefit at $2.38 per member per month.
The national average premium cost for infertility treatment is $1.39 per member per month, and states with $100,000 lifetime maximums have shown an average cost of $1.29 per member per month, according to Brandner.
The House rejected the bill on a vote of 54-39 on Feb. 9. It was the third time in five years that Brandner brought forth the proposal.
Besides working to pass legislation, Brandner’s organization, Everlasting Hope, also will work with employers to try to get them to provide insurance coverage for fertility treatments.
Studies have shown that 97% of employers’ insurance costs did not go up after adding the coverage, she said.