New legislation may help patients with cancer and other aggressive diseases afford fertility preservation treatment. California state Senator Anthony Portantino has recently introduced a bill that would require insurance companies to cover fertility preservation treatment for patients undergoing medical treatments that may cause infertility. Per Senator Portantino, “It just doesn’t seem right that anyone should have to choose between fighting cancer and his or her ability to have children.”
Approximately 70,000 people between the ages of 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of these people will go on to need treatment, including surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation, that puts their fertility at risk. So, on top of a dealing with a devastating diagnosis and all of the treatment that comes along with it, these patients often have to worry about losing their ability to have children.
Although there are now many treatments available for fertility preservation, including sperm freezing, egg freezing, and embryo freezing, these treatments can be expensive. For many young people, the cost of the fertility preservation treatment, isn’t something they can afford. This new bill would at least ease the financial burden for them when they have so many other things to worry about.
Most insurance companies have plans that cover cancer treatments and follow-up procedures that may be needed as a consequence of the treatments. For instance, many insurers will cover reconstructive surgeries, such as implants for women who had mastectomies. Many will also cover wigs and hair pieces for patients requiring chemotherapy. In this same manner, fertility preservation should be covered, since infertility is a known side effect of cancer treatment.
At Reproductive Partners, we have helped many women and men preserve their fertility prior to undergoing medical treatments that put their future child-bearing at risk. We understand how overwhelming a serious medical diagnosis can be and we do our best to ease the fertility side of it. We agree with Senator Portantino that these patients should be able to focus on getting healthy, instead of having to worry about losing their fertility.