Sally Bolin is the beaming mother of 1-year-old Michael Jarrett. Cynthia Swan is "tickled pink" over the birth of son Jordan three months ago.
Both babies were conceived through in vitro fertilization, the "test tube" procedure that cost each woman and her husband close to $6,000.Other couples have paid much more. Many were forced to borrow the money. That's because the majority of insurance companies won't pay the cost of the increasingly successful procedure - a situation that frustrates hundreds of Utahns suffering from infertility problems.
Determined to force a change, many are gathering ammunition for a inevitable battle over a bill that would require all group health insurance companies to provide pregnancy-related infertility treatment.
If HB211 passes the Legislature, the infertility coverage would not be limited to artificial insemination, surgery and medications to enhance fertility. It would also include in vitro fertilization, the procedure that drives some couples to take a second mortgage out on the house just for an attempt to get a baby.
The parent lobbyists, who have struggled with medical science, are in for a real battle with insurance companies.
"We would be opposed to this type of legislation because it would do nothing more than increase costs. We would have to pass those costs off to our consumers," said Michael N. Mitchell, vice president of marketing, Blue Cross Blue Shield. "We feel that the marketplace, not the Legislature, should dictate if they want the benefits and are willing to pay the costs."
Mitchell warns, "We are already to a point where employers can't afford health insurance as it is."
Insurance premiums increased 20 percent on average this year. Mitchell says infertility coverage would escalate costs even more.
Supporters of the controversial bill maintain insurance companies are overdramatizing the issue.
They say that five states already have mandated coverage for infertility treatments, and 20 others are working on similar legislation. In one state, in vitro fertilization coverage added only $1.60 to the average family policy.
Advocates also say the total price of infertility-related medical treatment is less than 0.1 percent of the total U.S. health care costs. Thirteen times as much was spent for contraceptions and three times as much for abortion services.
Bill sponsor Rep. Grant D. Protzman, D-North Ogden, believes it's a travesty that all group health plans don't now include coverage for pregnancy-related expenses.
"Currently the effects of Alzheimer's disease, which only hits older people for the most part, is covered," he said. "Illnesses that deal with very young children are covered. Pregnancy, just because it deals with women in their child-bearing years, should not be precluded from coverage - especially in a state like Utah where the emphasis is on families and healthy families."
The bill, expected to be introduced shortly, has the support of Resolve of Utah, a non-profit organization that offers counseling and support to people with impaired fertility. Members believe that most insurance coverage is currently discriminatory.
"Approximately one in six couples of child-bearing years are unable to conceive after one year or to carry a pregnancy to fetal maturity," a Resolve spokesperson said. "Statistics show that about 60-70 percent of these couples could have a biological child, but often the infertility treatments, if not reimbursed by health insurance, can impose a crippling financial burden on individual couples. Infertility is a legitimate health problem. Treatment is neither a cosmetic issue nor luxury and should not be a privilege for those who can afford it."
Protzman's bill does not include arrangements involving a surrogate mother, a woman who enters into an agreement to bear a child through assisted conception for the insured intended parents.