Friday, September 30, 2005

Infertility Treatment Legislation

I'm about to take a very unliberal stance on an issue. I'm not doing it to show I'm not a liberal or anything. It merely reflects my worldview, which defies a simple one word label. The state of Connecticut has enacted some interesting legislation regarding insurance companies and infertility...

The thrust of the article is that the state is going to require health insurers to cover many types of infertility treatments. The catch is that the requirement will come with an age limit. They won't have to pay for treatments from women over the age of 40.

I have no problem with the restricition. While I feel for the would-be parents who will be denied the opportunity to have a child because of this, I can find no legal reason why coverage should be required at all. Where in the Constitution does it say that we have the right to have babies no matter how much it costs to create them? The success rate of fertility treatments starts to fall off after age 35. The success rate for women over 42 is down around 4%. Is it fair and just to require the costs of this be spread out to all the other people on that insurance? Because that's what insurance companies do. They raise rates until they have optimal profit.

I do agree that if people want to have a child so badly that they are willing to go through reproduction assistance, being denied would have detrimental emotional health effects. And, as reproduction is a natural and healthy part of humanity, if something were not working, it could reasonably be construed as a health issue that needed fixing. So, I don't think it is outlandish to ask health insurance to cover these things. But, these health "problems" are not so grave that they need to be resolved regardless of chance of success or cost.

And don't jump in with arguments like, "Well, they support Viagra! They should support this!". That's not truly relevant to my point. If you are making the case that their policies are skewed against women, you may be right. After all, there is no age restriction for the man in the legislation. But again, you can point back to the point that an erection is a normal, healthy thing and if a man is incapable, he has a health problem. Health insurance ought to consider fixig the problem. The problem is that erectile dysfunction has an easy and comparatively inexpensive fix. So the lower cost is used to justify the coverage. Persoanlly, I think if Bob Dole can't get it up, he should go out and buy his own damn Viagra. Let the insurance company shift that money to something useful. I am opposed to the idea of health insurance covering Viagra across the board when they don't cover what I consider to be more important things.

What's more important than Viagra? Or in-vitro? How about contraception? I think there are far more health issues associated with unwanted pregnancies than either of the other issues combined. The cost to resolve would be comparatively low. Yet many health insurance companies do not coverage the more common forms of contraception. Hearing aids is another good one. Insurance companies won't pay for hearing aids unless they are forced. What's more important? A long shot pregnancy or a two year old boy being able to hear at a time when he is doing most of his cognitive development.

I think people expect health insurance to be the cure all, pardon the pun. If it can be done by a doctor or in a hospital, then by gosh, my insurance should cover it! The problem is, if everyone was paying $5000 a year and getting $15000 worth of services, the whole system would collapse.

So, what am I missing here? Other than the fact that studies should be done on how the age of the man and health of his sperm affects the treatment, what exactly is wrong with this policy?