Mandated fertility coverage



Summary: The Business Council opposes this bill, which would require all health insurance policies to cover expensive medical treatments for infertility. This measure would increase health insurance costs for everyone; by one estimate, the increase would be as much as 5 percent. By making all health insurance more costly, this measure would inevitably pressure some employers, especially small businesses, to discontinue offering health insurance. Government policy should focus instead on making health insurance as affordable as possible so that as many employers and individuals as possible can afford it.

Health insurance costs are rising further out-of-sight each day. The surge in premiums parallels the yearly double-digit increases of the 1980s.

The Business Council opposes this bill for numerous reasons:

. The bill would result in significantly higher health insurance premiums for small businesses. National studies on fertility mandates put the estimate of higher costs at three to five percent. These higher health insurance costs will have a negative effect on the state's economy by forcing employers to delay hiring and/or make other decisions about using their limited resources.

. The bill runs counter to other Senate health-care priorities supported by the business community. Those include a bill to offer a tax credit to small businesses who provide health insurance and a bill to put a moratorium on health insurance mandates.

. It would widen the gulf between small employers who have been purchasing coverage for years for their employees and those who have not and are now eligible for the lower-cost Healthy New York program. Small employers who have been providing coverage for their employees for five years or eight or ten years are ineligible to participate in Healthy New York. Ironically, the reason the Healthy New York program costs less is that the Legislature took some of the health insurance mandates out of the law.

Many groups have questioned whether these services are the responsibility of employers. The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law looked at this and stated: "As a society, our first goal must be to expand benefits that take into account a broad range of health-care needs. We simply cannot justify legislation giving special priority to assisted reproduction when so many other basic health-care needs remain unmet."

Neither can The Business Council.