By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES
April 8, 2008
Payment for Fertility Procedures Varies by State, Insurer, Locking Out Many
New York City councilwoman Melinda Katz began a career in public service when she was 28, but by the time she was 40 and wanted to have a baby, she learned she was infertile.
Today, at 42, neither medical technology nor being single stands in the way of Katz having that baby — only her insurance company.
Katz, who championed women’s health issues while serving in the New York State Assembly, discovered she was not entitled to insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF) that might have given her a baby.
“Having a baby is an important part of life,” said Katz, who told ABCNews.com she saved her money and paid for the IVF herself. It took three failed tries, but the petite city counselor is now expecting a boy, with a donor egg and sperm, in June.
“The state doesn’t cover a lot of fertility treatment and it should,” said Katz, who, as a Democrat, wrote the law requiring HMOs to provide women direct access to gynecological care without forcing them to first see a primary care physician.
“It’s a very expensive process and I was lucky enough to pull together tens of thousands of dollars,” she said. “Many women don’t have that great fortune.”
Like Katz, an estimated 2 percent of all American woman experience fertility problems, but only some of them can afford the expensive advances in technology that make pregnancy possible.
Pregnancy a Luxury
Katz, who hails from the well-heeled neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, can afford that luxury. As a single woman, she earns $125,000 a year and is running for the city comptroller job, which pays an annual salary of $185,000.
Still, the financial burden is only a part of the pain of IVF. “It’s a very emotional process, and by the end, I knew I really wanted this child, it was so long and arduous.”