Back in October we took a pretty extensive look at In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and insurance. The underlying premise of that article was that “IVF fails to meet the threshold of “medical necessity,” ergo it should not be covered by insurance.”
Apparently, most employers (and their group carriers) must agree with that assessment, because
"Only 25% of employers offer any type of infertility treatment, and even some of that is not very comprehensive. They might just cover the diagnosis of a disease," says Julie Salz Greenstein, government relations director for Resolve, a national infertility advocacy group.
Ms Greenstein opines that “(w)e believe it's the right of people to try to build their families." Well, of course she – and her colleagues – are free to believe anything they’d like; the problem arises only because she apparently believes that it is also her right to force others to help pay for her treatment.
What bothers me about this attitude is that proponents of lifestyle-related benefits, whether they be for IVF or Rogaine, seem not to understand the underlying economic factors at work. For example, Connecticut recently became the 12th state to require coverage for IVF. This means that policyholders in Connecticut will now subsidize the cost of this expensive treatment, whether or not they want to do so. This effectively means that insureds will now see rates increase due to treatment for a lifestyle choice, not a medically necessity. Doesn’t seem quite fair.
Why, for example, would we cover IVF but not trans-gender or bariatric surgery? Both of these are lifestyle issues, as well, so why is it fair to exclude them? Each new covered benefit results in higher premiums. Is it Ms Greenstein’s contention that health insurance isn’t expensive enough? That doesn’t seem reasonable, or likely. But it is the end result of mandating coverage for treatments that are not medically necessary.