Uncomfortable or debilitating? A study done by Healthline found that 60 percent of people who have not given birth experience moderate to severe pain during IUD insertion and other contraceptive procedures, and yet insurance companies are able to refuse to cover anesthesia for these procedures.
This is a problem — so much so that a writer for The Outline Magazine, Casey Johnston, wrote an article about how no one talks enough about the pain of IUD insertion without anesthesia or any pain medications. Her personal testimony described the pain during the insertion as three huge blinding waves as she screamed and cried through the process.
Considering more than one in 10 women ages 15-49 use long-acting reversible contraception, which often requires these procedures, anesthesia not being a guarantee through insurance is alarming. This especially when considering the fact that some cases of pain may be so severe that patients pass out, which is cause for strong concern, and further proves the need for anesthesia.
A bill currently going through the Connecticut General Assembly, H.B. 5816: An Act Requiring Health Insurance Coverage for Option Anesthesia for Reproductive Health medical Procedures, would go a long way toward making contraceptive procedures accessible and painless by mandating insurance coverage for anesthesia during the procedures.
Those that are opposed to this policy’s implementation argue that these aren’t medically necessary procedures, but this language is reckless and misleading. IUDs are not only used as contraceptives, but are also used to treat heavy, painful periods and treat anemia due to heavy periods. When choosing to use it as a contraceptive, there are also many things that go into choosing which contraceptive is right for each person. It is unjust that important medications such as IUDs are inaccessible to those who experience extreme pain during the procedures. Women’s healthcare needs are continuously overlooked and this is one of the prime examples of this oversight.
Some doctors argue that anesthesia is unnecessary during contraceptive procedures because not all women experience extreme pain, so it may constitute unnecessary drug usage. But is that reason enough to deny medication to the women who do feel severe pain? Should medicine not prioritize patients not experiencing pain, instead of brushing aside those who do as outliers, especially when they’re not? Making a unanimous decision on the provision of anesthesia erases the experiences of those who do experience high pain levels.
Aside from IUDs, procedures such as loop electrosurgical excision procedure, which is used to diagnose and treat abnormal and cancerous conditions, are medically necessary, yet still not covered. This further proves the need for this access. It would also follow Connecticut’s current progressive efforts to increase autonomy in the healthcare sector, with policies for doctor-assisted suicide constantly being brought to the table.
This bill would require healthcare insurance to cover optional anesthesia for women in Connecticut when receiving reproductive health medical procedures. This bill will be monumental for allowing women to not only get anesthesia during these painful procedures, but make sure their health insurance is not a barrier to this choice.
Anesthesia can cost anywhere from $200 to $3,500 which is guaranteed to be an obstacle for those who want to undergo these procedures without the trauma but cannot afford to.
Passing this bill will continue to build on Connecticut’s legacy of being a safe haven for women and be a trailblazer in legislation such as this, ensuring comfort in women across the state.
Connecticut needs to step up and show that it supports its women; the Connecticut General Assembly must pass this bill.
Sosna Biniam is a member of the Yale College Democrats.