New Proposal in Hawaii Fertility Law will allow Single Women and Same-Sex Couples

Hawaii is among the few states in the U.S. that require insurance companies to cover women going through in vitro fertilization. The law, however, does not include single-women or women in a same-sex relationship, stating that the woman’s spouse must fertilize her eggs.

Legal discrimination

Waikiki BeachWithin the United States, Hawaii is among the few states that requires employers to cover in vitro fertilization though their health insurance plans. Nonetheless, this benefit is restricted to only apply to heterosexual and married couples.

The cost of in vitro fertilization ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 and for many, this is a too steep price to pay, which is why they turn to their insurance providers.

The current fertility law only applies to heterosexual couples, meaning that if they undergo in vitro fertilization, their insurance companies would cover it. On the other hand, same-sex couples and single women would not be covered by these benefits simply because they are ‘unmarried’.

In addition, the law also imposes a strict requirement that the woman seeking in vitro fertilization should be infertile for five years before insurance covers the procedures.

Piilani Smith, A native Hawaiian cultural practitioner said that ‘Given that women are pursuing professional careers and securing their place in the workforce, they usually wait until later in life to begin their families.’ She furthered noted that women with cases like these should not be discriminated against, and that ‘all women should be respected equally regardless of their marital status.’

A committee was formed last Monday proposing an amendment to the law, but the decision to make it into a bill was postponed. Aside from covering same-sex and single women from costs, the proposal seeks to reduce the ‘waiting’ period to one year, which means a woman only needs to be infertile for a year for them to undergo the treatment and be covered by their insurance. The bill, however, needs to be passed before Friday for it to survive.

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A similar proposal was put forth last year but failed after insurance companies vehemently opposed the bill.

PiilaniSmith considered in vitro fertilization a few years ago but was shocked when the insurance company would not cover her treatment because she was not married. Hawaii Medical Services Association is the insurance company that refused her coverage, and was one of the insurance providers that opposed the previous proposal to include single women and those in a same-sex couple.

The insurance company has since gotten rid of the spousal requirement for the treatment to be covered. Smith and other women in a similar position are turning are counting on the proposed reform so that this would apply to all insurance companies in Hawaii.