Hilary Swank sues SAG-AFTRA health plan for not covering ovarian cysts

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Hilary Swank stars in that new Netflix space drama Away which debuted last week to middling reviews. Here’s a link to the trailer. The latest news about Hilary is that she’s decided to take on SAG-AFTRA. Hilary is suing the actors’ union’s healthcare plan. Hilary, who was diagnosed in 2008 with ovarian cysts, has been denied coverage for treatment since 2015 because the brainiacs who run the health plan claim she’s just trying to prolong her fertility. So Hilary’s had enough of their BS and is taking the matter to court. Good.

Hilary Swank is suing the SAG-AFTRA’s “antiquated, barbaric” health plan after being denied coverage for the treatment of malignant ovarian cysts.

The Oscar-winning actress, 46, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the board of trustees of the SAG-AFTRA health plan in which she said she had been denied coverage for the treatment of ovarian cysts, in court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

The actress claims the trustees “stopped allowing Swank’s claims for treatment of ovarian cysts” in 2015, according to the court documents. Swank was diagnosed with ovarian cysts in 2008, around the time her “left ovary was destroyed and removed during emergency surgery.”

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, the actress said she was “truly exhausted by the way women’s ovarian and cyclical health issues continue to be treated by healthcare insurance companies.”

“I have experienced it in my own life, and I continually read about it across social media and in the press,” Swank said. “Their policies are antiquated, barbaric and primarily view the role of women’s organs solely as a means for procreation.”

“My hope is to create change for all woman suffering from women’s health issues that have to battle with insurance companies who diminish the significance of their problems, don’t believe the patient (or their doctor’s) explanations surrounding their suffering, and severely preclude coverage to only incredibly limited services and procedures.”

She continued, “It’s painful enough having to deal with the nature of a female health issue, let alone having to wrestle with the stress of trying to get your insurance company to provide the coverage and care that their contract explicitly states they offer.”

“After years of experiencing my own health issues and the ensuing denials from my healthcare company for services that are medically proven to preserve my life, and seeing how expensive this is to support without the help of an insurance company, I decided to speak up,” Swank said. “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 actress added, “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.”

“I’m suing SAG/AFTRA Healthplan,” Swank concluded. “It’s time we are treated fairly.”

[From People]

Hilary’s coverage was still denied even after her doctor wrote in on her behalf explaining her treatment had nothing to do with trying to get pregnant and everything to do with Hilary’s health. According to the article, the trustees for the healthcare plan doubled down, stating, “there was no medically necessary reason to treat or monitor ovarian cysts other than for ‘infertility treatment.’” I had one singular ovarian cyst burst on me in high school while running laps during gym. It only ever happened the one time but I vividly remember doubling over on the track thinking I’d been shot. If these bastards don’t think cysts are a problem, how about they grow some and see how that goes for them. Every day women are told their bodies don’t matter unless they are used to serve men. Hilary just turned 46 so I assume SAG/AFTRA’s health plan trustees decided she was too old to be having babies, so they denied the cyst coverage. But if that isn’t bad enough, we get back to Hilary’s point, one with which I cannot agree stronger – It’s. Not. Always. About. Having. Babies. If cysts become problematic in any way, it could lead to very serious health problems for a woman. Why are women punished for wanting to live pain free?

Needless to say I hope Hilary is successful. Honestly, I wouldn’t care if she was just trying to extend her fertility, that’s her body, her choice – no bureaucrat should get to decide if it’s her right.

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This has nothing to do with Hilary’s lawsuit but her IG is filled with many shots of her pups, like this one. OMG – protect this woman at all costs!

Photo credit: Instagram and WENN/Avalon

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43 Responses to “Hilary Swank sues SAG-AFTRA health plan for not covering ovarian cysts”

  1. Darla says:

    “there was no medically necessary reason to treat or monitor ovarian cysts other than for ‘infertility treatment.’”

    WHAT!!! I can’t even read the rest of the story. I had a 8 year battle with ovarian cysts, and three surgeries the last of which was a radical hysterectomy. That was in 2016 just before the election. I told people here about it because i was scared I’d never have sex again, psychologically I didn’t think I’d be able to orgasm. Women here told me that wasn’t true and I would get over it. It took a full year post-surgery, but I did (just an update lol). Anyway, when I was diagnosed with my first cyst on my left ovary in 2008, my doctor believed it was Ovarian cancer. She sent me to someone who is supposed to be the most highly regarded expert on LI, to do the sonogram, and she also believed it was cancerous. So that had to be removed, along with my left ovary, but I will tell you if it doesn’t look cancerous, they still monitor for changes and growth because guess what?

    OVARIAN CANCER IS TREMENDOUSLY DEADLY.

    I am so furious. I can’t even believe I am reading this.

    • teehee says:

      I am in the same boat- I do not qualify to get any help unless I lie and say I wanted to have a baby.
      No – I want my body to do what its supposed to be doing because it will support the health of literally EVERY system and EVERY organ in my body.
      This attitude, that only the ability to conceive matters and nothing else does except when viewed from the persective of pregnancy, is not just a fault of the insurers but of the medical community in general. Its all about either suppressing or enhancing the ability to conceive, and never about anything else. (everything is “treated” with birth control: including INfertility!)
      Its absolute laziness and lack of concern and inability to think hard enough to understand how our bodies work, and laziness to think about the impacts that its lack of function WILL have (being on BC for a long time is also indirectly deadly!)

      Its a total ignorace of the female body and how it works and why we need it to work properly.

      • Darla says:

        I’m sorry. I had no troubles with my insurance company, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was. I knew I was fortunate to have insurance, but I didn’t realize so many other women were being denied coverage for this. This is so awful.

      • Mle428 says:

        Same here. I am regularly monitored for cysts because my mom had ovarian cancer. I had a complex cyst that was suspicious and if it hadn’t resolved on its own I would have had that ovary removed. I can’t even believe this! Women’s health in this country is an embarrassment. Monitoring for cysts in my case was NEVER about fertility (at the time I didn’t even want children, I just didn’t want to DIE OF OVARIAN CANCER).

    • Marjorie says:

      Darla, I had a similar medical experience although it was over 20 years ago. I was getting cysts all the time and had to take a now-obsolete test for ovarian cancer every couple of months. My poor mother died of ovarian cancer two months after diagnosis, and one of my aunts died of it too. So all of that resulted in a total hysterectomy in my 30s.

      What these idiot insurance companies don’t understand or care about is the pain and fear that comes from this condition. Big props to Hillary Swank for calling them out.

      • Darla says:

        I’m sorry Marjorie.

        They also have no idea of the bleeding. Men would faint at the things women have seen. I have no doubt of this. Like, bleeding doesn’t cover it. They have no idea. This is so enraging. At points along the way I was anemic. I mean, I would never describe it here or to anyone actually, and I’ve blocked some of it out, but it was really bad. I hate these people.

    • Rhys says:

      Even if it IS about having children, why wouldn’t it be covered? Are we not humans, like men, who should have the right to be healthy because we MIGHT have children?

      • Mle428 says:

        Rhys, my comment was (not enough coffee lol) meant to imply that not all ovarian cyst issues are related to fertility concerns, and my frustration at her insurance denying her claim based on that (which it should be covered nomatter the reason).

        I did worry that mine would impact my fertility were I to change my mind about kids later, which I did…much later, and was fortunate that it was not an issue when trying to get pregnant….thankfully, because women are hung out to dry with cost of fertility treatments more often than not.

      • Rhys says:

        @Mle428, I know, and completely understand… it’s more me screaming into the void, really, than replying to your specific comment.

      • Mle428 says:

        Rhys, it’s a scream into the void kind of year. Lol Have a nice weekend.

  2. Maree says:

    So much health insurance is woeful when it comes to womens health issues. I can’t remember the comedian, but basically the joke was – if men got periods, they’d have found a cure by now.

    Also, what I like about her doing this, is obviously for Hilary it isn’t about the money since she can afford her own treatment. But if she wins and forces SAG healthcare to change the rules, that will benefit all the other women on this healthcare who don’t have the $$$. Good on her!

  3. Roserose says:

    “Every day women are told their bodies don’t matter unless they are used to serve men.” This, a thousand times, this.

    I hope her lawsuit is successful and it sets a precedent.

  4. Nikki says:

    I LOVE her for taking action against this – on behalf of so many women who can’t afford to. It enrages me that health companies refuse to cover women‘s needs, but will cover drugs for men’s wishes or convenience.

  5. manda says:

    those dogs are amazing! I love the halloween costumes. Omg

  6. souperkay says:

    I had hormonal ovarian cysts when I was 19 and in the army. One burst while I was doing nothing in barracks and I doubled over. The pain was so bad I couldn’t walk. Thankfully the hospital was across the street from the barracks so I was hobbled over. Another burst when I was doing sit ups for PT and again I had to be checked in the pain was so bad. Thankfully, they were benign but that didn’t mean they were easy breezy. They kept me from being able to do my job, from exercising, and it wasn’t something that could be easily monitored or predicted. Health insurance is a scam and we need medicare for all. I didn’t have to worry about coverage in the military, just dumb male ER doctors who didn’t believe me when my second one burst. Healthcare is a human right.

    • Snowslow says:

      I had a burst cyst when I was having sex with my partner. It is blinding pain. I was 20 years old and thought something inside me had broken. It’s really strange how our bodies work. Men have no clue. My poor partner was terrified.
      Cysts have to be monitored all the time because they can twist and stop blood flow, cause infection and death if not treated immediately. This is utter BS.
      Also, if a woman wants to have babies, why should that not be covered by insurance? It’s a health issue – and can also become a mental health issue.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      I’ve had 2 ovarian cysts rupture & it is excruciating. And I have a high pain tolerance. One happened when I was at home & the pain was so bad I was incoherent. Like, my husband said I was acting like someone who was extremely intoxicated. I barely even remember it. I think my brain partly shut down to avoid the pain.

  7. Flamingo says:

    It is insane that the trustees are allowed to decide which procedures are covered and which aren’t, even if it is a self funded plan. From a liability standpoint it is so stupid and opens them up to lawsuits like this when they could easily leave these decisions up to the carrier.

    It is pretty inexpensive to monitor ovarian cysts. I’ve been going twice a year for an ultrasound to make sure that there aren’t any cysts that look concerning since I was 16. It’s less than $500 an ultrasound, so just monitoring would cost $1000 or less a year and would hopefully allow her doctors to prevent needing to do emergency surgery again.

    I have to wonder how many nose jobs these trustees approve for actor’s “deviated septums” or other procedures that have limited medical value while denying Ms. Swank’s medically necessary treatment.

  8. Paperclip says:

    I just…i can’t. Unconscionable.

  9. helonearth says:

    I had a hysterectomy with the removal of a watermelon-sized fibroid and the surgeon said they would also remove my ovaries and cervix. I asked why, and as there was no clear reason given other than it was standard practice, so I said No, I will not consent to that.

    Too often women are let down by the medical profession. Go Hilary!

    • Snowslow says:

      Exactly. I was told that I was to have a cyst removed, only to find out that it had been “emptied’ and was still there, ready to ‘fill up again’! I only found out because I tried to understand what had been done to me and how effective it was. The doctor seemed annoyed to have to explain, the same doctor who had told me that I might have to have a hysterectomy. They have no clue how these things can affect someone. But if someone tells men about a vasectomy they almost faint. The number of jokes made in series about vasectomies that end up not happening are insane. Whereas we are gutted all the time without a single concern for our emotions.

  10. Ladyjax says:

    This makes me so hot under the collar. I have had two ovarian cysts rupture on me, in a 9 month span. The first time I went to urgent care, who thought it may be an issue w my appendix and sent me to the ER. The ER doc did a ct scan, determined my appendix was fine, gave me some antibiotics “i case it was a UTI” and then the nurse sent me home and told me “you’ll probably be fine after you take a s$#&.”

    Then the exact same symptoms happened the exact same way in june of this year. I had a female doc who did a vag!nal ultrasound and found I had a large cyst that ruptured. I had a hysterectomy last year, and they left my ovaries. Cysts are more common after such a procedure. I feel for Hillary; ovaries are for far more than just fertility and need to be protected! How awful that they’re calling the shots.

  11. Lightpurple says:

    Burst ovarian cyst at 15 and another at 20.

    Sadly, she is unlikely to prevail unless the Supreme Court is overhauled. RBG raised this very issue of ovarian cysts in her dissent in Hobby Lobby and the men shushed her in a footnote in their decision because they just wanted to focus on birth control. Swank’s insurance stopped covering her treatment just months after the Hobby Lobby decision

  12. Kittylouise says:

    This is awful and I’m glad she’s sticking up for herself and also publicising this.

    I’ve had 3 major ops with my ovaries and their cysts – the left ruptured ovarian cyst the size of an apple when I was in my early 20s, and last year the one on the right which had a smaller cyst but which had been infected, clung to my bowel and gave me peritonitis. Those were two emergency ops which saved my life, and I also had another this year to take away the remainder of the cyst which they couldn’t remove last year because of the mess I was in (and which grew back!), and in the meantime the cyst had reattached itself to my sigmoid colon, which then caused a volvulus (the colon was twisted over like a hose pipe). I was in pain for months and I count myself lucky I had the operation during the early part of the pandemic in May, which shows how serious it was.

    Thankfully I have no insurance issues as I’m in England, and due to all the hospitals restricted to coronavirus cases at the time the NHS paid for me to have this op in a private hospital. Three times my life has been saved. Ovaries are no joke.

  13. Kittylouise says:

    I can’t imagine what state I would have been in life I had had to fight an insurance company to get coverage – the pain and the anxiety was bad enough. I’m so sorry for anyone who has to deal which such things, and sorry that the insurance system doesn’t cover this as a matter of course (as opposed to just concentrating on ovaries in their fertility sense).

  14. Izzy says:

    My first experience with a burst ovarian cyst put me in the ER with suspected appendicitis. Ovarian cysts can cause not only infertility but also weight gain, excess hair growth, and increased inflammation, not to mention a predisposition to diabetes.

    I hope she rakes these f’ers over the coals.

  15. Tiffany :) says:

    “SAG/AFTRA’s health plan trustees decided she was too old to be having babies, so they denied the cyst coverage”

    Just to clarify, that’s not what happened. Fertility treatments are/have never been covered. She was apparently doing procedures you’d do before freezing eggs, but maybe not solely in the pursuit of eggs.

    Ovaries do make eggs, but they also play a role in hormones. It’s like with argument over birth control in Congress. Men see our reproductive organs ONLY in respect to sex and procreating. But they are a part of our overall health. Birth control is hormone treatment. She might have been trying to avoid premature menopause.

  16. Feedmechips says:

    Good on her. I hope she wins.

  17. lucy2 says:

    I love that she’s doing this, and being public and loud about it. It’s needed, and I hope she gets a ton of support.
    Insurance companies should not be deciding a patient’s medical care.

  18. Lunasf17 says:

    I saw her post on IG yesterday about this and was cheering! I hate these insurance companies and as Americans we should not be tolerating this crap. I feel like we have reached a tipping point where so many of us Cannot even afford coverage at this point and even if we can we are denied services we need. This system needs to go. The only people this for-profit trash system works for for the insurance companies which are literally making billions every year off of us. I cannot believe anyone is defending the system at this point. America is basically a developing country when it comes to healthcare.

  19. Mtec says:

    “ the brainiacs who run the health plan claim she’s just trying to prolong her fertility.”

    I’m Canadian, so I don’t know how the US health insurance industry works, but I feel like I’ve heard that many insurance companies are willing to cover drugs like Viagra but not things like this, nor BC for women. So it’s cool for them to aid in extending erections, but not okay to help extend a woman’s fertility if that’s what she wishes? (I know that’s not the case Hilary’s making, just pointing out this double standard).

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Yes, it is pretty standard that fertility treatments aren’t covered but Viagra is. And honestly, I DO think that Viagra should be covered because sexual health is medical health. I just think that standard also needs to be recognized for women.

  20. a reader says:

    Wow, I am feeling so much less alone after reading all these comments.

    First, I have deep sympathy for any of you who have gone through this. I have too. Had 2 cysts burst when within 6 months when I was 22. It was the most horrible pain I’ve ever felt. Couldn’t sit down, stand up, walk, lay on my side… felt like someone was repeatedly stabbing me in my abdomen. I truly thought I was going to die.

    We need to have conversations about women’s health that are open and honest, and insurance companies need to get their sh** together and start providing coverage.

  21. Leigh says:

    Hilary Swank: Hot!! Insurance companies are a racket anyway! Your doctor should determine your treatment, not insurance. We need a One payer system NOW!!

  22. Ferdinand says:

    I am sorry to hear all of your stories and the fear Id be living in if I had the same health coverage as the USA.
    Having said that, I understand that many people deal with insurance companies because any medical treatment in the states is expensive as hell and people need to be covered in such expenses.
    Yet, Hillary has money, she has the means to be treated privately or with a top notch doctor without having to deal with insurance companies.

  23. Gobo says:

    Ovaries produce hormones which are important to a woman’s health and physical well being. I’d be willing to bet there is one treatment they will cover- ovary removal. Which would launch her head first into menopause with all that entails. Fertility is not the only reason a woman would not want a part of her arbitrarily lopped off rather than treated and maintained. I’d bet my own ovaries that they would cover the safe keeping of a man’s testicles.

  24. Smices says:

    SAG/Aftra is being generally crappy these days. They just tossed a ton of older actors out of their healthcare plan. In the middle of a pandemic! One dude was over 100 years old.

  25. JillyBean says:

    This is brutal – I wish her the best in pursuing this and publicizing this.

  26. deader than new metal and disco says:

    “Every day women are told their bodies don’t matter unless they are used to serve men. ”

    THIS!

    I live in a 3rd world country and I am poor AF, so I can’t even go to the doctor rn, but I suspect I might have problems with my ovaries. My periods have been extremely painful and infrequent (once every two or three months) since my very first. I’ve lived my life with the knowledge that I might have cancer, but there’s really nothing I can do about it. Especially not rn when I agree COVID is a priority.

    Just ranting, sorry.

  27. nicegirl says:

    This kinda shit is about to thaw my frozen Queen Elsa heart.

    Fuck yeah Hilary!!

  28. K says:

    I’m glad she’s suing, but find it so disheartening that even wealthy movie stars have to fight for the medical help they require in America. There is no hope for the rest of us.

    Her dogs are beyond cute.

  29. Cee says:

    I got one when I was 22 years old. It was “benign” and had to wait for my body to reabsorb it. However I was told not to lift anything heavy nor keep up with my gym training schedule because the cyst could easily burst and compromise my left tube. So yeah, this men suck. Ovarian cysts are NO JOKE even when they’re benign!!!!

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