ALBANY, NY - New York is eyeing whether to require insurers to cover in vitro fertilization treatment for women struggling with infertility.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the state Department of Financial Services to study the impact the coverage would have on insurance premiums, noting that several other states currently require it.
New York currently mandates coverage of certain infertility treatments, but not in vitro fertilization.
"By lifting barriers to insurance coverage, we will ensure safe and affordable access to in vitro fertilization and help New Yorkers have better control over their reproductive health and family planning," Cuomo said in a statement last week.
Around 12 percent of women aged 15 to 24 have difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy full term, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In vitro fertilization or IVF is a procedure where the sperm and egg are brought together outside of the body. Once a viable embryo forms it is then put into the uterus.
In 2002, New York created the infertility coverage mandate, which required group health insurers to infertility treatment for women age 21 to 44.
But in vitro fertilization is specifically excepted from the mandate, meaning insurers aren't required to cover it in New York.
The average cost for IVF is between $13,000 and $17,000, according to the American Pregnancy Association. It has become one of the most common infertility treatments in the U.S.
Prices can vary depending on where in the county the practice is, the woman’s age and her medical history.
Many women also have to go through multiple cycles of fertility treatments before they are able to carry to full term with a viable pregnancy, which increases the cost substantially.
The Department of Financial Services' study will look into the premium costs of IVF coverage to help more women gain access to those types of treatments who would not be able to afford them without insurance coverage, according to Cuomo's office.
The study will also review the state's current infertility definitions to see if they can be improved.
Both Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York and Independent Health put 2 On Your Side in touch with Leslie Moran Monday. Moran is with the New York Health Plan Association which is a statewide trade organization that represents managed care plans.
"Any time we expand benefit coverage, or increase benefits by adding new benefits to coverage, it does go to the underlying cost of health care, and every time you increase the underlying cost of health care, you increase premiums, and every time you increase premiums, you risk putting it out of reach for some portion of the population," says Moran.
Moran says she hopes her group can work with the state to make sure any final recommendations are evidenced-based and balance access to appropriate services with the goal of containing health care costs.
"If we're talking about a small percentage of the population that actually would access these services, you're asking all businesses and all premium payers to absorb the cost of coverage for a very small part of the population," she says.