Some LGBT couples in Hawaii are currently trying to get their state government to require health insurance companies to pay for fertility treatments. This is absurd on several levels.
Sean Smith and his husband paid more than $20,000 for a fertility procedure when they decided to have a child using a surrogate mother. They did not know at the time that if they were a heterosexual couple, they might have saved that money.
Now, Smith and other members of Hawaii’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are lobbying for equal access to the financial help married, heterosexual couples enjoy under state law.
They are pushing legislation that would require insurance companies to cover in vitro fertilization for more couples, including making Hawaii the first state to require the coverage for surrogates, which would help male same-sex couples who must use a surrogate.
The obvious reason that this is absurd is that two men who want to have a child together are not suffering from a fertility problem. Nor are they suffering from a health problem. They are experiencing the obvious consequences of biology 101.
Another reason that this is absurd is that health insurers should not be required by the government to cover anyone’s fertility issues regardless of whether they have the appropriate plumbing to even make fertility a possibility.
“Now that marriage equality is the law of the land and is accepted, now let’s turn to family building, and let’s figure out how we fix all these inequities that exist,” said Barbara Collura, president and CEO of Resolve, a national organization that advocates for access to fertility treatments.
Hawaii is one of eight states that require insurance companies to cover in vitro fertilization, a costly procedure where a doctor retrieves eggs from a woman, combines them with sperm from a man and then implants an embryo into a woman’s uterus.
But Hawaii’s mandate applies only to married heterosexual couples because it covers the medical intervention only if a woman uses sperm from her spouse, leaving the LGBT community and single women behind.
That is exactly the opposite of what is happening. The LGBT community and single women aren’t being left behind. The law requiring insurers to cover the costs of in vitro fertilization or surrogate motherhood for anyone is unjust. It’s a case of some people receiving a benefit they should not receive, not a matter of someone being denied a benefit that they should receive.
These treatments are no more “health care” than contraception or abortion. Caring for person’s health means fixing problems that directly affect that person’s well being or life span. Not being able to conceive a child is not a risk to anyone’s health. I understand that infertility can be a painful circumstance. Just because it’s a biological thing does not mean it is a health problem. Two men wanting to conceive a child and have the child brought to term using a surrogate cannot be called a “health care” issue without completely obliterating the language and basic logic.
Part of the problem with debates about health insurance is that health insurance isn’t really insurance anymore. Until people recognize that, then we will never be able to really make health care affordable for everyone. Automobile insurance doesn’t cover oil changes. Home insurance doesn’t cover the cost of finishing your basement. Yet, people expect heath insurance to provide them with that sort of coverage of their health. What we call health insurance has become a convoluted, government mandated, third party entitlement for “biological services.” If car and home insurance were treated the same way, that insurance and the related services would be ridiculously unaffordable as well.