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Hilary Swank Sues SAG-AFTRA Health Plan for Not Covering Ovarian Cyst Treatment

”This matter addresses the shockingly antiquated question of whether the sole purpose of a woman…is to procreate,“ the lawsuit says

Hilary Swank has filed a lawsuit against the Board of Trustees of the SAG-AFTRA health plan, demanding that they resume coverage of medical treatment for her recurrent ovarian cysts.

The lawsuit, obtained by TheWrap, argues that the trustees made a sexist decision in denying Swank her coverage under the argument that “there was no medically necessary reason to treat or monitor ovarian cysts other than for ‘infertility treatment.'” The lawsuit even quotes Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”: “As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes.”

“This matter addresses the shockingly antiquated question of whether the sole purpose of a woman, and specifically her ovaries, is to procreate,” says the lawsuit. “When faced with a claim for insurance benefits for the medically necessary treatment of ovarian cysts and endometriosis, the Trustees answered ‘yes,’ determining that there could be no possible reason to treat those conditions other than for the purpose of trying to conceive.”

A rep for SAG-AFTRA did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

In the lawsuit, Hilary Swank says she has dealt with ovarian cysts and endometriosis since 2008 and had treatment covered under the SAG Health Plan. Following the SAG-AFTRA merger in 2012, Swank was transferred onto the new health plan that continued to cover her treatment until 2015, when she says the trustees pulled her coverage. According to Swank, attempts to appeal through the guild’s administrative system were rejected.

“It also just so happened that around the same time as when the Trustees no longer agreed to allow Swank’s claims, Swank was undergoing procedures to preserve her ability to conceive in the future,” says the lawsuit. “Seizing upon Swank’s choice to keep her options open, the Trustees pointed to an exclusion in the Plan for ‘infertility treatment,’ relying on the notion that the only purpose of preserving the health of an ovary is to procreate.”

Hilary Swank is seeking an order from a federal judge requiring the SAG-AFTRA health plan to cover her cyst treatment, which she still undergoes to this day and requires “monitoring their growth and treating the cysts and endometrial tissue with ultrasounds, bloodwork, aspirations, and surgery as needed.”

The lawsuit comes as a combination of cost-cutting due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising healthcare costs have pushed the trustees to make sweeping changes that will take thousands of SAG-AFTRA members, including many retirees, off of coverage lists.