A same-sex couple is suing health insurance giant Aetna for allegedly discriminating against LGBTQ+ beneficiaries seeking fertility treatments, costing them thousands more out-of-pocket than their heterosexual counterparts.
The proposed class action suit was filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan. Plaintiff Emma Goidel claims that Aetna’s policy, which requires same-sex couples to pay for fertility treatment out of pocket before becoming eligible for coverage, has forced her and her spouse to spend nearly $45,000 for fertility treatments, according to NBC News.
Goidel is covered by Aetna through her spouse’s health insurance plan for Columbia University students. The complaint claims that Aetna provides broad coverage for intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, but not for same-sex couples.
Under Aetna’s plan, couples that are able to try and get pregnant through heterosexual intercourse can receive coverage simply by saying that they have tried for six or 12 months, depending on their age.
However, according to the complaint, couples that cannot conceive through intercourse, due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, must first pay out of pocket for six or 12 months of IUI treatments.
As of early last year, Goidel said she and her spouse paid out-of-pocket for four unsuccessful IUI cycles, and one unsuccessful IVF cycle, before they eventually got pregnant on the fifth attempt, through an IUI cycle.
Despite their previous failures with IUI, Goidel said they continued to choose IUI because of the lower cost, since Aetna refused to cover any of the expenses.
In the complaint, Goidel says she has “endured great emotional distress in having to choose a course of treatment based on cost, rather than based on her personal and medical circumstances in consultation with her doctor.”
“Aetna’s discriminatory policy is an illegal tax on LGBTQ individuals that denies the equal rights of LGBTQ individuals to have children,” Goidel alleged. “At best, these individuals incur great costs due to Aetna’s policy language. At worst, these exorbitant costs are prohibitive and entirely prevent people who are unable to shoulder them — disproportionately LGBTQ people of color — from becoming pregnant and starting a family.”
According to NBC News, Goidel is bringing claims under the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination provisions, and New York state and city human rights laws, seeking to represent a class of people covered by Aetna student health plans in New York.