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Illinois rules insurers must cover gamete freezing for cancer patients

3 September 2018
Appeared in BioNews 965

Illinois has become the latest US state to insist medical insurers fund fertility preservation treatments for cancer patients. 

Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law on 27 August 2018, making Illinois the fifth state to pass so-called oncofertility laws.

'This is a legacy moment when research, medicine and legislative decisions meet the needs of patients, families, citizens and Illinoisans,' said Professor Teresa Woodruff, director of the Oncofertility Consortium at Northwestern University, Illinois.

The law means that health insurance providers in Illinois now must fund measures such as egg and sperm freezing to give patients the chance to conceive a genetically related child following cancer treatments that could leave them infertile, such as chemotherapy, radiation and certain surgeries. 

The Oncofertility Consortium at Northwestern University, Gilda's Club (an organisation for people living with cancer) and the national infertility association RESOLVE welcomed the new legislation.

'Cancer patients should not have to choose between effective medical treatment and having children,' LauraJane Hyde, chief executive of Gilda's Club Chicago, told STL News. 'A greater number of young people are surviving cancer, but the treatment itself may render them infertile. Providing cancer patients with this family-building option of freezing eggs or sperm is a life-affirming action they can take that allows them a future chance at parenthood, giving them one less worry during their cancer journey.'

Previously, although gamete-freezing facilities have been available previously, the cost would often have to be met by patients themselves. 

'I am thrilled that patients now will not have to worry about the financial burden of fertility preservation and can look forward to hopes and dreams just like mine,' said former cancer patient Megan Connolly, who has had eggs frozen. 'At a time when patients should be focusing on getting better, one thing they should not have to worry about is coming up with the financial means to pay for fertility preservation.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Cancer patients guaranteed oncofertility treatment coverage under new Illinois law
Northwestern University |  27 August 2018
Illinois News: Governor Bruce Rauner extends health insurance to fertility preservation
STL News |  28 August 2018
RESOLVE Applauds Illinois for Insurance Coverage for Fertility Preservation
RESOLVE: The National Fertility Organization |  27 August 2018
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