DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado legislature heads back to work Wednesday. The high cost of infertility treatment is among the issues it will tackle.
One in eight people is diagnosed with the disease. Crystal and Tyler Wilson of Golden are among them. Crystal has endometriosis. Tyler was shot and paralyzed in Afghanistan.
He says the VA treated all of his injuries except infertility.
“It was basically a big fat thank you for your service, but you’re on your own with this.”
The Wilsons say, if not for help from friends, they couldn’t afford the treatments, which they say cost nearly $100,000 in all. Now, they have two sons – Michael and Matthew – and are on a mission to help other couples.
“That was actually what lit fire under both of us, to start fighting for change.”
They won temporary coverage at the federal level for some combat-related infertility. Now, they’re taking their fight to the State Capitol.
Crystal says, “Everybody diagnosed with the disease, no matter the reason that you have, this diagnosis, you deserve chance at family.”
State Representatives Kerry Tipper and Lesley Herod agree. They’re introducing a bill requiring insurance companies to cover infertility diagnosis and treatment.
“Let me be clear, people are paying for this coverage. They are paying their insurance premiums. They are paying for healthcare coverage. Why isn’t this included?” said Herod.
For Tipper, the issue is personal. She and her husband have been trying to have a baby for eight years.
“You feel stigmatized and feel some shame and part of this bill allows us to talk about an issue that affects families across the state.”
Sen. Jim Smallwood, a Republican on the Health and Insurance Committee, is concerned the bill will drive up premiums for everyone.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily anything to be opposed of until we see all of the details, but I have a lot questions. Part of what need to look at in addition to the cost is how many people are actually going to benefit from it.”
Tipper and Herod have not decided how many treatments and what percentage of the cost insurance would be required to cover. They say 17 other states already have infertility insurance laws, and they have seen minimal increases in premiums and fewer premature births.
The Wilsons are part of the grassroots group Colorado Fertility Advocates, which is spearheading the effort to pass the bill. It would also help LGBTQ couples.
Crystal’s message to those who might oppose the bill, “One of the biggest things I say is ‘sit in our shoes.'”
“I couldn’t put a price on them in million years,” says Tyler of his children. “They mean everything to me.”