The Wisconsin Supreme Court just handed down what might turn out to be a landmark ruling:
Insurance companies may not deny coverage to surrogate mothers, the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled Friday.
The decision overturns a lower court’s ruling that said Mercycare Insurance Co. and MercyCare HMO of Janesville did not have to provide benefits to two surrogate mothers who were denied coverage during their pregnancies. The companies had a policy of covering pregnant women, excluding surrogates acting as “gestational carriers” for other people’s babies.
But the Supreme Court said insurance companies may not make routine maternity services unavailable to surrogate mothers based solely on their reasons or methods of becoming pregnant. The ruling affirms an opinion by the Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner that the HMO could not legally withhold coverage under its 2002 policy.
The two surrogate mothers involved in the legal battle are not identified by name in court records. Combined, they incurred more than $35,000 in medical bills during their pregnancies in 2003 and 2004, according to the court opinion.
Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Sean Dilweg said the ruling supports his department’s view that insurance companies can’t discriminate against women based on the reasons they got pregnant.
Similar challenges in other States have been unsuccessful. Hopefully this Wisconsin decision is a harbinger of things to come rather than an outlier.