Here is an update on the story we blogged about last month:
The state insurance commissioner’s office has ordered a health insurer to pay the medical costs for a Bozeman nurse’s surrogate pregnancy. The commissioner’s office notified New West Health Services on Nov. 1 that it has to reimburse Anicee Acosta-Yearick for costs associated with her 2009 surrogate pregnancy, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (http://bit.ly/s1gq2Q ) reported Thursday. Acost-Yearick and her husband sued New West for more than $11,500 in medical costs.
“New West attempts to exclude coverage for surrogacy,” wrote attorney Jameson C. Walker, but its exclusion of “surrogate parentage” is listed under the plan’s exclusions involving infertility treatment and does not apply to the pregnancy of an insured surrogate.
“Even if the exclusion applied to the insured’s surrogacy pregnancy, this would be a violation” of Montana law, which makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender in issuing any type of insurance policy.
Walker’s letter also notes that Acosta-Yearick checked with New West to determine if coverage was available for a surrogate pregnancy. “It appears that New West informed her that it would be covered, then later retracted this affirmation.” New West was given until Dec. 1 to provide the commissioner’s office with proof Acosta-Yearick’s covered pregnancy costs have been paid.
New West attorney Leo Ward of Helena did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on behalf of the insurance company.
Shea said his client’s medical bills have been sent to collection agencies. “We are certainly happy with the insurance commissioner’s ruling and we would like New West to abide by it,” he said Thursday.
Acosta-Yearick also has a wrongful discharge lawsuit pending against Billings Clinic, the owner of Bozeman OB/GYN. The Bozeman clinic fired Acosta-Yearick on the grounds that she violated the organization’s code of ethics when she agreed to carry a baby for an infertile couple who were patients at the clinic.
Billings Clinic also filed an ethics violation complaint against Acosta-Yearick with the Montana Board of Nursing, but the board determined the complaint did not merit legal or disciplinary action, court records said. The lawsuit also argues that Billings Clinic violated the nurse’s privacy when it reviewed her medical records without her permission. The clinic’s attorney, Ed Butler of Colorado Springs, Colo., argues the accusations of insurance fraud, nursing ethics violations and Acosta-Yearick’s financial gain from the surrogacy were all valid reasons to have fired her.
Acosta-Yearick’s lawsuit said the couple agreed to pay for some medical tests, maternity clothes and extra groceries and living expenses during the pregnancy. The lawsuit notes that another Billings Clinic nurse donated a kidney to a dialysis patient in September 2010 and “was praised for her selfless and courageous act,” and was not alleged to have violated any of the clinic’s policies or ethics rules.
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