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Bill would cover fertility care for seriously ill

Laura Olson, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Insurance companies would be required to pay for fertility treatments for patients battling cancer and other serious diseases under a bill advancing through the California Legislature.

Cancer patients can require treatments that jeopardize their ability to have children. Expensive steps to preserve fertility may not be covered by insurance when the condition results from treating other diseases.

The bill by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, requires insurers to cover the cost of extracting eggs and freezing sperm prior to treatments that can harm fertility. Harvesting and freezing eggs can cost as much as $15,000.

Providing coverage will help patients who consider foregoing treatment in order to protect their ability to have children, Quirk-Silva said. About 140,000 people in the U.S. under the age of 45 are diagnosed with cancer each year.

"This is a sensible, humane and cost-effective solution to foreseeable harm for medically necessary treatment," Quirk-Silva said.

The Assembly passed the measure Wednesday on a vote of 48-23. The bill now goes to the Senate.

If AB912 is signed into law, California would be the first state with such a requirement. Current state law requires insurers to offer coverage for fertility treatments, but it is not required to be included as a benefit in an insurance policy.