Aetna Fertility Treatment Lawsuits: New Class Action Claims Discrimination Against Gay Women
Aetna denied insurance coverage to a 40-year-old-gay woman who sought fertility treatment, a class action lawsuit alleges. Tara Kulwicki filed the lawsuit in Connecticut federal court on February 9, 2022. It states that Aetna’s standards for fulfilling fertility treatment claims are different from those for heterosexual women and places a discriminatory financial burden on gay couples.
Aetna is facing other lawsuits for its failure to offer equal coverage terms for gay women, who must use in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI) to become pregnant. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) may face other forms of discrimination in the health care system, studies show.
Aetna’s Insurance Coverage for Fertility Treatment Forces Gay Women to Pay
In order to be eligible for fertility treatment coverage, Aetna’s policy states the following:
- A woman must have unsuccessfully attempted to get pregnant through intercourse for 12 months before filing a claim for coverage.
- If a woman cannot show she was unable to conceive through intercourse-as a gay woman cannot-she must pay for fertility treatment for 12 months before insurance coverage kicks in.
In the Kulwicki lawsuit, the plaintiff argues the policy discriminates against gay women, who cannot receive coverage for fertility treatment without first paying for one year of therapy. Under the terms of the policy, heterosexual women do not have to pay for the treatment out of pocket.
The suit is seeking class action status to represent the interests of other gay women facing similar barriers to insurance coverage for fertility treatment.
Aetna Faces Multiple Lawsuits for Discriminatory Policy
In another related case, Emma Goidel filed a class action lawsuit in a Manhattan federal court alleging that Aetna’s policy discriminates against LGBT people who want to have children (Reuters).
Goidel stated that she and her partner had to pay $45,000 for fertility treatment before conceiving. The couple paid for four IUI treatments, one IVF treatment, and one final IUI treatment before successfully conceiving-and Aetna would not cover these therapies. In a complaint letter for the case, Goidel’s attorneys call this practice a discriminatory tax on gay couples that violates their protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other New York laws (Reuters).
In the case, Goidel is seeking damages for the cost of fertility treatment along with emotional and physical damages.
Other Forms of LGBT Discrimination in Healthcare
According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), LGBT people face other challenges in the healthcare system beyond equal access to reproductive technologies. Compared to non-LGBT people, those who identify as LGBT are:
- More likely to delay seeking medical care
- Less likely to have a regular medical provider
- More concerned about their ability to pay for medical care
The report also notes that LGBT people may be more likely to receive care from providers who are not trained to handle their medical needs with sensitivity. They may also face higher financial burdens from medical care needs unique to LGBT people, such as gender-affirming surgeries or hormone treatment.
If you faced discrimination from an insurance company or a healthcare provider, you could get legal help. Fill out our contact form to get a consultation from a mass tort lawsuit lawyer in our network.