PINE BELT (WDAM) - The plan to start a family can be more of a struggle than a splendid time for thousands of couples in Mississippi. At the capitol, state lawmakers will consider a bill that could help make the process with pregnancy a little easier financially.
Representative Missy McGee, District 102, said she introduced House Bill 1198 to continue to give a voice to Mississippi families effected by the high cost in treating infertility.
The American Medical Association designates infertility as a disease and McGee said it's affecting more than 70,000 couples in Mississippi.
"Working through infertility is a painful experience, one that I have personally been through and so many other Hattiesburg families that I know, so it was important to me," McGee said.
Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year or longer of unprotected sex, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Because fertility in women is known to decline steadily with age, some providers evaluate and treat women aged 35 years or older after 6 months of unprotected sex.
Dr. Robert DeSantis, with Laurel Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.A., said treatment for fertility problems can be stressful, costly and hard on a woman's body. The average cost for one IVF treatment is between $12,000 - $15,000.
HB 1198 would require health insurance policies that provide pregnancy-related benefits to provide coverage for medically necessary expenses of diagnosis and treatment of infertility and related purposes. The coverage may not exceed a lifetime benefit of $20,000.
According to the CDC, about six-percent of married women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying. Also, about 12% of women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, regardless of marital status.
"I think that insurance plans need to work to meet the needs of families," said McGee. "Insurance coverage exists as a safety net when medical challenges arise and I just feel like my bill is starting point to meet that challenge."
HB1198 will now move to the full house for consideration within the next week. If approved, it will move to the senate for consideration.