Illinois lawmakers are considering a bill that would extend fertility benefits to LGBTQ+ couples in the same way as heterosexual couples.
According to state Rep. Margaret Croke (D-Chicago,) who filed the legislation earlier this year, the current state law is “outdated,” and has led employer-based health insurance rules to exclude millions of Illinoisans from its protections, including same-sex couples.
Currently, the state law requires any large companies in Illinois that offer pregnancy benefits to also cover fertility treatments, such as IVF. However, the 30-year-old law’s definition of “infertility” is reliant upon the individual being part of a couple that has first tried to get pregnant through unprotected sexual intercourse for a full year.
If a heterosexual couple fulfills the state’s 12-month heterosexual-sex requirement, at least $20,000 infertility-related medical expenses would be covered by employer-based health insurance, potentially up to $60,000, the Chicago-Tribune reports.
If a gay couple in Illinois wants to start a family through surrogacy, they have to pay for everything from in vitro fertilization to genetic testing costs. An entire surrogacy process usually costs between $100,000 and $200,000.
If it passes into law, Croke’s bill could significantly offset some of the costs of the surrogacy process for LGBTQ+ parents-to-be. IVF, which is around $20,000 and may need to be repeated, would be covered under the bill. However other surrogacy coverage, like egg donation and compensation costs for the surrogate, would still not be included.
“This idea of taking [parenthood] away from someone because of who they love is pretty heart-wrenching,” Croke said. “There are people who want to be parents, and I don’t think that we should be determining who becomes a parent because of financial barriers, or because they are in a same-sex relationship, or they’re single.”
The bill would also extend the fertility coverage to single women, who, for example, may want to freeze their eggs, but don’t have a partner with whom they can fulfill the one-year intercourse requirement for coverage to kick in.
According to the Chicago-Tribune, Croke’s bill is expected to go to the Illinois House floor by the end of May.