New Healthcare Laws Expand Infertility Treatment Coverage, Create Unused Medicine Repository

There’s a saying: If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.

But for some people, getting necessary medicine to keep their health in check is out of reach.

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This, even as a lot of drugs go to waste -- maybe your pharmacy benefits manager sends medicine via the mail before you need it, letting prescriptions pile up, perhaps a loved one passes away and has leftover, unopened drugs in the medicine cabinet, or you buy too much of a bottle of over the counter pills.

A new law, the Illinois Drug Reuse Opportunity Act (HB119)  will allow these drugs to be donated; pharmacists will collect and help dispense them.

Head of the state pharmacists association Garth Reynolds said the law’s 20 years in the making.

“Right now we’re looking at whole box medication. So we’re not talking about, you know, you’ve got five tablets of something left. We’re talking about unused boxed medications for the most part, or unit of use medications that are still sealed,” Reynolds said. “This will allow us to be able to take these medications back and get them to people who still fall into the underinsured population.”

He said Illinois’ modeling the program after a successful one in Iowa that’s been in place for five years.

When you next visit a pharmacy, you may begin to notice a new sign posted, alerting shoppers that they’re entitled to request the retail price of a drug.

Like other products, medicine’s price varies from place to place. Sometimes, the cash price is cheaper than what a drug costs with insurance, or even the cost of a co-pay.

“This is where it is good to be an educated consumer as well as being an educated payment. And just as you look for the best price for the best price at other businesses for other products and services that you receive, you should also be doing that for your medications,” Reynolds said.

Another law taking effect Saturday deals with insurance coverage for fertility treatment.

“Now our insurance law in Illinois only covered people who can get biologically pregnant, so women, and conceive, and they have to try 12 months with their partner. So automatically you’re excluding an entire group of individuals, mostly LBGTQ people who want to have a family,” state Rep. Margaret Croke, D-Chicago, said.

Single women and individuals who still want to become moms have also been excluded.

Out of pocket, fertility treatments’ can be expensive, costing thousands to conceive a single child.

Croke says a constituent, a doctor in a same sex marriage, raised the issue with her. At the time, Rep. Croke was three months out from giving birth to her now two-year-old son.

“The idea that because I was able to conceive naturally and I am a woman and I’m married to a man, I’m able to have a child, but this man who is married to the most wonderful partner who also happens to be in a same-sex relationship …. our society, the cost of infertility, is taking that opportunity away from that family just was just really incredibly heartbreaking for me ,” she said.

Starting Saturday, via HB3709 that changes.

Illinois-based insurance plans will have to cover fertility treatment for same sex couples and single individuals.

Also, women over 35 need to try to get pregnant for 6 months, rather than a year, before infertility coverage kicks in.

If a doctor verifies a medical issue behind the infertility, there will also no longer be a requirement that a woman fruitlessly try to naturally conceive for a year.

Also new in 2022, is (HB3027) which allows those who are pregnant to legally use a disability placard to park in handicap accessible spots during their third trimester.

Another new law (SB512) aims to reduce youth vaping. Illinois will prohibit marketing e-cigarettes to those under age 21, and ban promotions that present vaping as a low-risk alternative to regular cigarettes.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

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