Earlier this week, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation that compels insurance carriers for state government workers and public school employees to provide fertility treatment coverage for women in same sex relationships. This bill came out of a federal civil rights law suit that was filed last year against the State of New Jersey by a same-sex couple whose application for fertility coverage was denied by their health care provider, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Here’s how the new law came about, and what same-sex couples can expect their insurance to cover.
Background: In that federal case, Plaintiff Erin Krupa had unsuccessfully attempted to become pregnant for three years due to endometriosis and cysts on her uterus. When she attempted fertility treatment, Horizon denied her request. Why the denial? The way the law was written, a women is eligible for coverage of their fertility treatments only if after engaging in unprotected intercourse with a male partner for one year or more. Clearly this would not and could not apply to women in same sex relationships.
Expanded coverage: The new law expands the current infertility insurance law in New Jersey to now include single women and women in same-sex relationships. The law also reduces the waiting period for in vitro fertilization (IVF) coverage from two years to one year for women under age 35, and from one year to 6 months for women over 35, and requires the State Health Benefits Program and School Employees Health Benefit Plan to provide this expanded insurance coverage.
The plaintiffs in the federal case cited the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision in Obergefell v. Hodges stating that the right to procreate is also protected by the Fourteenth Amendment as is the right to marry.
The National Infertility Association has applauded New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for signing into law legislation to increase fertility coverage for New Jersey families.
This is not the first time New Jersey has addressed legal issues for same sex couples here in the Garden State. In custody matters, New Jersey has recognized both biological and non-biological parents as legal parents in situations where the child was born into the parents’ marriage, civil union or registered domestic partnership, if the child was adopted by both parents, or, if the non-biological parent proves to the court that they have established a parent-child type relationship with the child. You do this by proving you accepted your parental responsibilities, held yourself out as the child’s parent with the other parent’s permission and lived with the child after birth or adoption and developed a strong emotional bond with the child. Gender is moot.
In a quote by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden as found in the New Jersey Law Journal, “No one should be denied coverage for health services due to their sexual orientation…New Jersey has always been on the front lines of the fight for equality, but outdated regulation like this continues to hold us back.
Hopefully as more and more same-sex couples challenge these outdated laws that discriminate, New Jersey will see more and more of these archaic rules and regulations overturned and wiped from the books.
If you have further questions about LGBTQ parenting, custody or divorce, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our qualified and compassionate family law attorneys.
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