Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New Puerto Rico bill seeks to ensure insurance covers fertility treatments

By on August 8, 2018

SAN JUAN – As a way to counteract the population shrinkage that Puerto Rico is experimenting, the representative for San Juan’s fourth district, Víctor Parés, introduced a bill to force health insurance companies to cover fertility treatments.

The same day Parés submitted House Bill 1695, he also held a hearing to discuss the progress report from the Puerto Rico Planning Board committee that is working on the island’s demographic challenge, which includes nearly 20 entities.

Eileen Poueymirou, an associate member of the Planning Board, attended the hearing to provide a summary of the report and answer questions from the Economic Development, Planning, Telecommunications, Public-Private Partnerships and Energy Committee.

While Poueymirou spoke about the importance of “increasing the birthrate,” she also emphasized the need to reduce outmigration and incentivize the return of Puerto Ricans who have left.

“We found it to be very significant in the analysis we have been carrying out to recognize the demographic variable in the geographical context because recognizing it in some way will allow us to work on these matters more effectively, knowing that in the context of Puerto Rico, more than 50% of the population decline between 2010 and 2017 occurred in San Juan, Ponce, Bayamón, Carolina and Mayagüez. That is the equivalent of 241,677 individuals,” Poueymirou said during the hearing.

For the planner, the importance of knowing where the areas of highest outmigration are provides the opportunity to created specific, targeted strategies. However, she argued more research is needed on certain trends such as the possibility that people move first to other island towns before leaving Puerto Rico.

Regarding both the birthrate decline and rising outmigration, Poueymirou said many of the contributing factors are not government-related. However, many of the alternatives she presented suggest government intervention is needed.

Parés did not rule out the need for more legislative measures to address the different aspects of the population decline and said Puerto Rico is going through a “demographic crisis” and that alternatives must be found.

H.B. 1695 would establish that “every plan or coverage policy or contract of public or private health insurance that is granted in Puerto Rico by any insurance company authorized by the Insurance Commissioner to provide health services in the Government of Puerto Rico will need to offer a coverage for the payment of health services for all types of fertility treatment, likewise for the payment of the procedures and medication….”

Coverage would also extend to diagnostic testing, which could vary between $200 and $3,000, according to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago. In the case of treatments, the cost also varies greatly. Although some medication can be under $100, Advanced Fertility Center charts show that more invasive procedures can start at $1,500 and exceed $20,000.

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