(Sacramento, CA) – The health plan practice of routinely denying fertility preservation for individuals undergoing medical treatments such as chemotherapy will finally be curbed with Governor Newsom’s signature on Senate Bill 600 (Portantino). This new law confirms that fertility preservation procedures for patients undergoing treatment that can compromise their fertility are basic healthcare services that insurers must cover. Joyce Reinecke, executive director of the Alliance for Fertility Preservation, described what this law would mean to patients, “[t]his law gives patients access to the services that they need – and are entitled to – to protect their ability to have children after cancer. It gives them hope for their future.”
Fertility preservation differs from infertility treatment for those who experience difficulty getting pregnant. Fertility preservation allows a person set to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment to freeze their eggs, sperm or embryos until their treatment is concluded.
“Being incorrectly denied treatment to preserve my fertility before undergoing breast cancer treatment added so much stress to my fight for recovery,” said Jessica Marin of Sacramento who, due to the unlawful denial of coverage, was forced to quickly raise funds from family and friends to cover fertility preservation before she started cancer treatment. Numerous appeals including an Independent Medical Review (IMR) through the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) led to her health plan ultimately reimbursing her for the cost, but not every patient can self-fund preservation treatment or delay cancer care while fighting their insurers for the right to have a family.
“Unconscionable and unlawful health plan denials of fertility preservation have taken away the ability of cancer patients to have families,” said Ruben Alvero, MD, Professor and Division Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Stanford. “Thankfully, this practice will come to an end with the Legislature and governor’s approval of SB 600.”
Liz Helms, President and CEO of the California Chronic Care Coalition, whose My Patient Rights program helps guide patients in accessing the care they need, also lauded the signing of SB 600. “This new law will help ensure patients have access to fertility preservation and are no longer forced to make decisions about getting timely cancer treatment or fighting health plan bureaucrats” said Helms.
SB 600 declares and confirms fertility preservation services are covered under existing law, Governor Newsom’s signature now provides needed clarity so patients can more easily access these services immediately.
About Alliance for Fertility Preservation
The Alliance for Fertility Preservation is a 501c3 charitable organization. The Alliance is made up of a team of professionals who have chosen to join together to advance the field of fertility preservation. Our members are recognized leaders with expertise in all aspects of fertility preservation including, oncology, reproductive endocrinology, urology, psychology, oncology nursing, and reproductive law. Learn more by visiting us at allianceforfertilitypreservation.org.