Hilary Swank Sues SAG-AFTRA's Health Plan Over "Barbaric" Denial of Coverage

Hilary Swank called the SAG-AFTRA Healthplan an "antiquated, barbaric" system after filing a complaint over their decision not to cover treatment for ovarian cysts.

By Cydney Contreras Sep 10, 2020 2:30 AMTags
Hilary Swank, New York Fashion Week 2018Monica Schipper/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows

Hilary Swank is demanding that the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists treats "all their members equally" after the organization's board of trustees for the health plan denied her coverage.

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Aug. 8 and obtained by E! News, the Million Dollar Baby actress explained that she previously sought treatment for malignant ovarian cysts in 2015, but the board of trustees ruled not to cover it as they considered it an infertility treatment, which was not included in their coverage.

Hilary alleged that the board of trustees came to this decision because they were "relying on the notion that the only purpose of preserving the health of an ovary is to procreate." 

In response to their decision, Hilary and her doctors explained, "She was not seeking coverage for fertility treatment, but only for treatment for her ovarian cysts."

Despite the clarification from her health care team, Hilary claimed she didn't receive approval for the "medically necessary" treatments.

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Now, the star tells People she's "decided to speak up," because she knows other women are experiencing the same struggles as she did. "I have experienced it in my own life, and I continually read about it across social media and in the press," the actress explained in part. "Their policies are antiquated, barbaric and primarily view the role of women's organs solely as a means for procreation."

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Hilary went on to decry the challenges of receiving treatment for issues, only to then be offered "incredibly limited services and procedures" by health insurance companies.

And while she may have the financial resources, Hilary remarked that many don't. "Based on what I learned, I know that most women can't afford the medical treatments necessary to cover simple female health issues. I can only assume they either financially deplete their resources, or they forgo the treatments, quietly suffering in pain and risking their lives," the star stated. 

She continued, "My hope is to be a voice for them. SAG/AFTRA Healthplan claim they treat and protect all their members equally. I don't believe this is true. If you're a woman suffering from female health issues, I have no doubt you'll agree with me. If you're a man, ask your mother, your daughter, your sister, or a girlfriend. I already know the answer."

The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has released a statement following Hilary's claims. "Contrary to the allegations in Ms. Swank's complaint, the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan does not exclude treatment for endometriosis and ovarian cysts under the Plan's infertility exclusion but rather covers diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis and ovarian cysts when medically necessary," the statement reads. "As reflected in the complaint, the accredited Independent Review Organization (which completely separate entity from the Plan) reached the same conclusion as the Plan's Trustees that Ms. Swank's services were not medically necessary in this case."

The statement concludes, "The Health Plan Trustees care deeply about our participants' health and well-being as well as their privacy and therefore we are unable to comment beyond the statements that have been made public in Ms. Swank's complaint."