Health and Wellness

Aetna faces class action lawsuit alleging discrimination against LGBTQ couples

Aetna faces class action lawsuit alleging discrimination against LGBTQ couples
FILE - In this June 29, 2015, file photo, Supporters of the U.S. Supreme Courts ruling on same-sex marriage gather on the step of the Texas Capitol for a news conference celebrating marriage equality and looking to important work ahead in Austin, Texas. The Texas Supreme Court has reversed its previous ruling and will hear a Houston case that top conservatives hope will let the state limit the impact of 2015's federal legalization of gay marriage. The state's highest civil court announced Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, it was setting arguments for March in a lawsuit seeking to halt same-sex spousal benefits that America's fourth-largest city offers municipal employees. Photo: AP Photo/Eric Gay, File

Insurance giant Aetna is facing a class-action lawsuit that alleges the company discriminates against LGBTQ couples seeking fertility treatment.

The company requires couples to actively try to get pregnant for six to 12 months. Opposite sex couples can simply say they’ve been having sex and get immediate coverage. It’s not nearly that simple for queer couples.

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Same-sex couples are also required to prove they’ve been attempting to get pregnant, but since the only options are intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, both of which are expensive, queer couples are required to fork over tens of thousands of dollars at minimum before being covered by insurance.

Emma Goidel told a federal court that she and her spouse were forced to shell out over $45,000 before Aetna would start paying for the procedure. Goidel said in her filing that she was only able to choose the cheapest treatment due to the high out-of-pocket costs.

“Ms. Goidel has endured great emotional distress in having to choose a course of treatment based on cost, rather than based on her personal and medical circumstances in consultation with her doctor,” her lawyers said.

“Aetna’s discriminatory policy is an illegal tax on LGBTQ individuals that denies the equal rights of LGBTQ individuals to have children,” Goidel alleged. “At best, these individuals incur great costs due to Aetna’s policy language. At worst, these exorbitant costs are prohibitive and entirely prevent people who are unable to shoulder them – disproportionately LGBTQ people of color – from becoming pregnant and starting a family.”

The lawsuit cites a  ruling by New York’s Department of Financial Services that says policies similar to Aetna’s violate the law. The suit was filed in Manhattan.

She is bringing the case under the non-discrimination protections included in the Affordable Care Act along with state and local non-discrimination laws. She seeks to represent all queer couples covered by Aetna’s New York student health plans like the one she had.

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