Hilary Swank Settles SAG-AFTRA Health Plan Lawsuit Over Ovarian Cyst Coverage

Hilary Swank has reached a settlement with the Board of Trustees of SAG-AFTRA Health Plan after being denied coverage for treatment of ovarian cysts.

By Corinne Heller Aug 11, 2021 10:44 PMTags
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Hilary Swank and the trustees of the SAG-AFTRA health plan have settled a lawsuit that she had filed after being denied coverage of treatment for recurrent ovarian cysts.

The case was dismissed without prejudice on Monday, Aug. 9, legal filings obtained by E! News show. Three days earlier, the actress' attorneys noted to the court that "Swank and the Board of Trustees of the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan entered into a written settlement agreement to resolve the matter."

In her lawsuit, filed last September, the 47-year-old Oscar winner claimed that she has suffered from ovarian cysts for 11 years and also had one of her ovaries removed in an emergency surgery in 2008. The documents stated that after previously allowing coverage for procedures to treat ovarian cysts and related lab and imaging work, the trustees stopped accepting such claims six years ago and denied her appeals, citing the plan's lack of infertility treatment coverage.

Swank stated in the filing, seen by E! News, that the purpose of treating and monitoring her sole remaining ovary "was unrelated to any 'infertility treatment.'" 

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The lawsuit said her "doctors were focused on saving her ovary to prevent the risk of debilitating medical conditions," such as cancer, premature menopause and "even early death."

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"This matter addresses the shockingly antiquated question of whether the sole purpose of a woman, and specifically her ovaries, is to procreate," said the lawsuit, obtained by E! News. "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."

The lawsuit stated that in 2015, the trustees "stopped allowing Swank's claims for treatment of ovarian cysts" after previously covering them since 2009. It added, "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."

In response to the lawsuit, the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan told E! News in a statement that read in part, "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. 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."

Swank's lawsuit also quoted a line from Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale, which spurred the current Hulu series and depicts some fertile women as sex slaves: "As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes."

Swank's rep and SAG-AFTRA have not commented on the settlement.