This article was published on September 20th, 2021
As LGBTQ+ individuals, we undoubtedly face more hardships than our heterosexual counterparts in life. We face oppression on many levels, and some are more apparent than others. When it comes to adopting and trying to live life like heterosexual couples, sometimes we aren’t afforded the same rights as people in the straight community.
A lawsuit filed against Aetna this week brings our struggles into the limelight. A couple paid around $45,000 USD for fertility treatment. Although not all insurance providers cover fertility treatment in the USA, in 15 states, fertility treatment is a requirement. That leaves only 35 states where a heterosexual couple cannot claim insurance benefits to reproduce. If we compare this to gay couples, we can see a huge discrepancy. No state in the continental US requires insurance providers to offer fertility treatment to gay couples.
For millions of Americans, infertility poses a huge problem. However, in many states, this does not cost an arm and a leg. Insurance providers consider fertility services medically necessary for heterosexual partners. So, why aren’t we given the same respect and consideration? Well, according to Aetna, “medically necessary” is considered “not becoming pregnant after 12 months of regular, unprotected heterosexual sex.”
Emma Goidel is the furious plaintiff in the case. She claims that after receiving treatments for intrauterine insemination, she applied for coverage under her insurance policy, and Aetna denied her claim. She is asking for an end to the policy that is obvious discrimination against our community. She claims that the policy violates section 1557 of the affordable care act, which prohibits discrimination in healthcare based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
The suit also claims that Aetna’s policy violates New York state and cities Human rights laws which aim to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Her attorney says that the policy undermines the rights of queer folks to form families.
The incident isn’t isolated. This type of treatment happens all over the world in various aspects of LGBTQ+ life. If anything, this incident is tame because our community needs access to sexual and reproductive health care. The USA has historically failed us on many fronts and continues to do so daily. The barriers of the healthcare system in America are exacerbated by race and other intersections of oppression. We are not a monolithic population. Like everyone, LGBTQ+ needs are diverse and experiences vast.
Without sexual and reproductive healthcare, we cannot have a holistic view of healthcare. All people who can become pregnant, including trans, nonbinary and queer people, need access to full-spectrum healthcare without hate. Guttmacher estimates that several hundred trans and nonbinary individuals obtained abortions in 2017 at facilities that do not provide healthcare to the LGTQ community.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. Several leading sexual and reproductive private health companies recognize our needs and have begun to integrate reproductive and sexual health for our community. Providing Quality Family Planning Servicescalls for a person-centered approach to integrate our needs within the public and private health sectors.
The LGBTQ+ community needs health services and have a right to access reproductive health care as much as heterosexual people. Although it may seem that queer people are not receiving these benefits currently, they are starting to appear with more frequency. It’s important to continue to fight for what is right and give a huge round of applause to Emma Goidel for fighting for LGBTQ+ rights. Queer people need to do this to make positive and lasting changes. Change does not come without sacrifice or a fight.